Interleukin-12/23 deficiency differentially affects pathology in male and female Alzheimer's disease-like mice

EMBO Rep. 2020 Mar 4;21(3):e48530. doi: 10.15252/embr.201948530. Epub 2020 Jan 30.


Pathological aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) is a main hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent genetic association studies have linked innate immune system actions to AD development, and current evidence suggests profound gender differences in AD pathogenesis. Here, we characterise gender-specific pathologies in the APP23 AD-like mouse model and find that female mice show stronger amyloidosis and astrogliosis compared with male mice. We tested the gender-specific effect of lack of IL12p40, the shared subunit of interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23, that we previously reported to ameliorate pathology in APPPS1 mice. IL12p40 deficiency gender specifically reduces Aβ plaque burden in male APP23 mice, while in female mice, a significant reduction in soluble Aβ1-40 without changes in Aβ plaque burden is seen. Similarly, plasma and brain cytokine levels are altered differently in female versus male APP23 mice lacking IL12p40, while glial properties are unchanged. These data corroborate the therapeutic potential of targeting IL-12/IL-23 signalling in AD, but also highlight the importance of gender considerations when studying the role of the immune system and AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; IL-12/IL-23; gender; innate immunity; β-amyloid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease* / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Interleukin-12 / deficiency*
  • Interleukin-12 / genetics
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40 / deficiency
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40 / genetics
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19 / deficiency*
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19 / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Plaque, Amyloid


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Il12b protein, mouse
  • Il23a protein, mouse
  • Interleukin-12 Subunit p40
  • Interleukin-23 Subunit p19
  • Interleukin-12