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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 29;8(4):e62402. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062402. Print 2013.

Tau passive immunotherapy in mutant P301L mice: antibody affinity versus specificity.

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Litwin-Zucker Center for Research in Alzheimer's Disease, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, North Shore LIJ Health System, Manhasset, New York, United States of America.


The use of antibodies to treat neurodegenerative diseases has undergone rapid development in the past decade. To date, immunotherapeutic approaches to Alzheimer's disease have mostly targeted amyloid beta as it is a secreted protein that can be found in plasma and CSF and is consequently accessible to circulating antibodies. Few recent publications have suggested the utility of treatment of tau pathology with monoclonal antibodies to tau. Our laboratory has begun a systematic study of different classes of tau monoclonal antibodies using mutant P301L mice. Three or seven months old mutant tau mice were inoculated weekly with tau monoclonal antibodies at a dose of 10 mg/Kg, until seven or ten months of age were reached respectively. Our data strongly support the notion that in P301L animals treated with MC1, a conformational monoclonal antibody specific for PHF-tau, the rate of development of tau pathology is effectively reduced, while injecting DA31, a high affinity tau sequence antibody, does not exert such benefit. MC1 appears superior to DA31 in overall effects, suggesting that specificity is more important than affinity in therapeutic applications. Unfortunately the survival rate of the P301L treated mice was not improved when immunizing either with MC1 or PHF1, a high affinity phospho-tau antibody previously reported to be efficacious in reducing pathological tau. These data demonstrate that passive immunotherapy in mutant tau models may be efficacious in reducing the development of tau pathology, but a great deal of work remains to be done to carefully select the tau epitopes to target.

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