The role of microglia in AD pathogenesis and treatment
MentorCynthia Lemere, Ph.D. Harvard Medical School
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid (Aß) in the brain. This protein is formed throughout life, but as some individuals age, the protein begins to accumulate in aggregates called plaques. Surrounding the Aß plaques in the brain is an area of inflammation that involves the immune cells of the brain, called the microglia. Microglia produce both noxious substances that can increase the damage to the brain caused by Aß and helpful substances that help brain cells maintain normal function. Dr. Seabrook is studying the effects of suppressing microglia on the formation of plaques in mice that have been engineered to produce an abnormal human form of Aß in their brain. These experiments will help elucidate the basic role of microglia in the formation of Aß. The role of microglia during vaccination will also be examined, which could lead to a better understanding of their role in this promising therapeutic area.