New insights into the role of TREM2 in Alzheimer's disease

Mol Neurodegener. 2018 Dec 20;13(1):66. doi: 10.1186/s13024-018-0298-9.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the leading cause of dementia. The two histopathological markers of AD are amyloid plaques composed of the amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide, and neurofibrillary tangles of aggregated, abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau protein. The majority of AD cases are late-onset, after the age of 65, where a clear cause is still unknown. However, there are likely different multifactorial contributors including age, enviornment, biology and genetics which can increase risk for the disease. Genetic predisposition is considerable, with heritability estimates of 60-80%. Genetic factors such as rare variants of TREM2 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-2) strongly increase the risk of developing AD, confirming the role of microglia in AD pathogenesis. In the last 5 years, several studies have dissected the mechanisms by which TREM2, as well as its rare variants affect amyloid and tau pathologies and their consequences in both animal models and in human studies. In this review, we summarize increases in our understanding of the involvement of TREM2 and microglia in AD development that may open new therapeutic strategies targeting the immune system to influence AD pathogenesis.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; ApoE; Gliosis; Microglia; Neurodegeneration; TREM2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Plaque, Amyloid / pathology
  • Receptors, Immunologic / genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • TREM2 protein, human