The development of strategies for treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other age-associated dementias is an important goal of research in the neurosciences. It is suggested that advances in understanding of the etiology of those disorders would provide the most obvious avenues to development of preventative treatments. Research findings from both clinical investigations and studies of animal models are presented which suggest a neuroimmunologic component in age-associated dementia. Clinical studies suggest an association between dementia and brain-reactive autoantibodies in subsets of patients with Alzheimer's disease. Studies of mice suggest that: 1. 1) when compared with normal genotypes, mutant mice with accelerated autoimmunity show learning and memory impairments at earlier chronological ages 2. 2) the learning and memory deficits of autoimmune and normal mice are qualitatively similar 3. 3) the behavioral deficits of normal aged and autoimmune mice are sensitive to similar Pharmacologic interventions. Overall, these findings suggest that intervention strategies targeting the immune system might be useful in the treatment or prevention of aging-associated dementia. Autoimmune mice would be useful as models for the development and testing of such immune-based interventions.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Brain-reactive antibodies