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ARUK 2023 | Help or harm? Targeting the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease

The immune system is implicated as a key factor in Alzheimer’s disease development, with multiple innate and adaptive immune components thought to contribute to disease etiology and pathophysiology. It therefore seems plausible that targeting the immune system, particularly neuroinflammation, could help treat Alzheimer’s disease. Amy Lloyd, PhD, University of Dundee, Dundee, shares her thoughts on the promise of the immune system as a therapeutic target. Dr Lloyd highlights the timing of an immune intervention as one of the major challenges. While there is consensus that the immune system is of great importance in disease, it remains unclear which aspects of neuroinflammation are harmful and which are protective. For example, some evidence suggests that microgliosis is beneficial early in disease, enabling phagocytosis of amyloid plaques and dysfunctional synapses and releasing trophic factors. However, at later stages, microgliosis appears to become more harmful, promoting neurodegeneration. Determining when to intervene in order to harness the neuroprotective features of the immune response but prevent neurotoxicity is key. This interview took place at the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Conference 2023 in Aberdeen, UK.

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