TREM2-activating antibodies abrogate the negative pleiotropic effects of the Alzheimer's disease variant Trem2R47H on murine myeloid cell function

J Biol Chem. 2018 Aug 10;293(32):12620-12633. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA118.001848. Epub 2018 Mar 29.


Triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) is an orphan immune receptor expressed on cells of myeloid lineage such as macrophages and microglia. The rare variant R47H TREM2 is associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, supporting the hypothesis that TREM2 loss of function may exacerbate disease progression. However, a complete knockout of the TREM2 gene in different genetic models of neurodegenerative diseases has been reported to result in both protective and deleterious effects on disease-related end points and myeloid cell function. Here, we describe a Trem2R47H transgenic mouse model and report that even in the absence of additional genetic perturbations, this variant clearly confers a loss of function on myeloid cells. The Trem2R47H variant-containing myeloid cells exhibited subtle defects in survival and migration and displayed an unexpected dysregulation of cytokine responses in a lipopolysaccharide challenge environment. These subtle phenotypic defects with a gradation in severity across genotypes were confirmed in whole-genome RNA-Seq analyses of WT, Trem2-/-, and Trem2R47H myeloid cells under challenge conditions. Of note, TREM2-activating antibodies that boost proximal signaling abrogated survival defects conferred by the variant and also modulated migration and cytokine responses in an antibody-, ligand-, and challenge-dependent manner. In some instances, these antibodies also boosted WT myeloid cell function. Our studies provide a first glimpse into the boost in myeloid cell function that can be achieved by pharmacological modulation of TREM2 activity that can potentially be ameliorative in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; R47H TREM2; antibody; gene knockout; genetics; microglia; myeloid cell; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis*
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Brain / immunology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / immunology
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microglia / pathology
  • Mutation*
  • Myeloid Cells / immunology
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism
  • Myeloid Cells / pathology*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biomarkers
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Trem2 protein, mouse