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Nature. 1995 Apr 13;374(6523):647-50.

Activation of microglial cells by beta-amyloid protein and interferon-gamma.

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Institute of General Pathology, University of Verona, Italy.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of progressive intellectual failure. The lesions that develop, called senile plaques, are extracellular deposits principally composed of insoluble aggregates of beta-amyloid protein (A beta), infiltrated by reactive microglia and astrocytes. Although A beta, and a portion of it, the fragment 25-35 (A beta (25-35)), have been shown to exert a direct toxic effect on neurons, the role of microglia in such neuronal injury remains unclear. Here we report a synergistic effect between A beta and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) in triggering the production of reactive nitrogen intermediates and tumour-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) from microglia. Furthermore, using co-culture experiments, we show that activation of microglia with IFN-gamma and A beta leads to neuronal cell injury in vitro. These findings suggest that A beta and IFN-gamma activate microglia to produce reactive nitrogen intermediates and TNF-alpha, and this may have a role in the pathogenesis of neuronal degeneration observed in ageing and Alzheimer's disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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