Immunotherapies for Aging-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases-Emerging Perspectives and New Targets

Neurotherapeutics. 2020 Apr 28;1-20. doi: 10.1007/s13311-020-00853-2. Online ahead of print.


Neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Lewy body dementia (LBD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and vascular dementia (VCID) have no disease-modifying treatments to date and now constitute a dementia crisis that affects 5 million in the USA and over 50 million worldwide. The most common pathological hallmark of these age-related neurodegenerative diseases is the accumulation of specific proteins, including amyloid beta (Aβ), tau, α-synuclein (α-syn), TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43), and repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) peptides, in the intra- and extracellular spaces of selected brain regions. Whereas it remains controversial whether these accumulations are pathogenic or merely a byproduct of disease, the majority of therapeutic research has focused on clearing protein aggregates. Immunotherapies have garnered particular attention for their ability to target specific protein strains and conformations as well as promote clearance. Immunotherapies can also be neuroprotective: by neutralizing extracellular protein aggregates, they reduce spread, synaptic damage, and neuroinflammation. This review will briefly examine the current state of research in immunotherapies against the 3 most commonly targeted proteins for age-related neurodegenerative disease: Aβ, tau, and α-syn. The discussion will then turn to combinatorial strategies that enhance the effects of immunotherapy against aggregating protein, followed by new potential targets of immunotherapy such as aging-related processes.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Aβ; Immunotherapy; tau; vaccination; α-synuclein.