Autoimmunity and age-associated cognitive decline

Harbans Lal, Michael J. Forster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


It is suggested that the immune system may play a role in the etiology of age-associated cognitive decline and/or Alzheimer's disease. The relationship between brain-reactive antibodies (BRA) and age-associated cognitive dysfunction is reviewed and discussed. A parallel relationship between BRA increases with age and decline of avoidance learning capacity is described in mouse models. Transfer of immunity from old to young mice was found to accelerate both age-related formation of brain-reactive antibodies and age-related decline of avoidance learning capacity. Short-lived mouse genotypes with accelerated autoimmunity were found to show accelerated age-related declines in their ability to acquire an avoidance response when compared with nonautoimmune mice. Overall, these findings suggest that the immune system could be an important target for development of intervention strategies aimed at extending the intellectually competent period of life. Mice in which autoimmunity is accelerated may be useful as models for the development of such interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-742
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1988


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Autoimmunity
  • BXSB/MpJ
  • Brain-reactive antibodies
  • C57BL/6NNia
  • MRL/MpJ-+
  • MRL/MpJ-Ipr
  • One-way active avoidance learning
  • Senescence


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