Prof. Eitan Okun – Restoring microglial and astroglial homeostasis using DNA immunization in a Down Syndrome mouse model


Down Syndrome (DS), the most common cause of genetic intellectual disability, is characterized by over-expression of the APP and DYRK1A genes, located on the triplicated chromosome 21. This chromosomal abnormality leads to a cognitive decline mediated by Amyloid-β (Aβ) overproduction and tau hyper-phosphorylation as early as the age of 40.

In this study, we used the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS to evaluate the beneficial effect of a DNA vaccination against the Aβ1-11 fragment, in ameliorating Aβ-related neuropathology and rescue of cognitive and behavioral abilities. Anti-Aβ1-11 vaccination induced antibody production and facilitated clearance of soluble oligomers and small extracellular inclusions of Aβ from the hippocampus and cortex of Ts65Dn mice. This was correlated with reduced neurodegeneration and restoration of the homeostatic phenotype of microglial and astroglial cells. Vaccinated Ts65Dn mice performed better in spatial-learning tasks, exhibited reduced motor hyperactivity typical for this strain, and restored short-term memory abilities.

Our findings support the hypothesis that DS individuals may benefit from active immunotherapy against Aβ from a young age by slowing the progression of dementia.

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