Effector function of anti-pyroglutamate-3 Aβ antibodies affects cognitive benefit, glial activation and amyloid clearance in Alzheimer's-like mice

Alzheimers Res Ther. 2020 Jan 13;12(1):12. doi: 10.1186/s13195-019-0579-8.


Background: Pyroglutamate-3 Aβ (pGlu-3 Aβ) is an N-terminally truncated and post-translationally modified Aβ species found in Alzheimer's disease (AD) brain. Its increased peptide aggregation propensity and toxicity make it an attractive emerging treatment strategy for AD. We address the question of how the effector function of an anti-pGlu-3 Aβ antibody influences the efficacy of immunotherapy in mouse models with AD-like pathology.

Methods: We compared two different immunoglobulin (Ig) isotypes of the same murine anti-pGlu-3 Aβ mAb (07/1 IgG1 and 07/2a IgG2a) and a general N-terminal Aβ mAb (3A1 IgG1) for their ability to clear Aβ and protect cognition in a therapeutic passive immunotherapy study in aged, plaque-rich APPSWE/PS1ΔE9 transgenic (Tg) mice. We also compared the ability of these antibodies and a CDC-mutant form of 07/2a (07/2a-k), engineered to avoid complement activation, to clear Aβ in an ex vivo phagocytosis assay and following treatment in APPSLxhQC double Tg mice, and to activate microglia using longitudinal microPET imaging with TSPO-specific 18F-GE180 tracer following a single bolus antibody injection in young and old Tg mice.

Results: We demonstrated significant cognitive improvement, better plaque clearance, and more plaque-associated microglia in the absence of microhemorrhage in aged APPSWE/PS1ΔE9 Tg mice treated with 07/2a, but not 07/1 or 3A1, compared to PBS in our first in vivo study. All mAbs cleared plaques in an ex vivo assay, although 07/2a promoted the highest phagocytic activity. Compared with 07/2a, 07/2a-k showed slightly reduced affinity to Fcγ receptors CD32 and CD64, although the two antibodies had similar binding affinities to pGlu-3 Aβ. Treatment of APPSLxhQC mice with 07/2a and 07/2a-k mAbs in our second in vivo study showed significant plaque-lowering with both mAbs. Longitudinal 18F-GE180 microPET imaging revealed different temporal patterns of microglial activation for 3A1, 07/1, and 07/2a mAbs and no difference between 07/2a-k and PBS-treated Tg mice.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that attenuation of behavioral deficits and clearance of amyloid is associated with strong effector function of the anti-pGlu-3 Aβ mAb in a therapeutic treatment paradigm. We present evidence that antibody engineering to reduce CDC-mediated complement binding facilitates phagocytosis of plaques without inducing neuroinflammation in vivo. Hence, the results provide implications for tailoring effector function of humanized antibodies for clinical development.

Keywords: APPSWE/PS1ΔE9; Immunotherapy; Microhemorrhage; Phagocytosis; Pyroglutamate-3 amyloid-β; microPET.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Alzheimer Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Immunization, Passive / methods
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neuroglia / drug effects*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid / metabolism


  • Alzheimer Vaccines
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Pyrrolidonecarboxylic Acid