T Cell Responses to Neural Autoantigens Are Similar in Alzheimer's Disease Patients and Age-Matched Healthy Controls

Front Neurosci. 2020 Aug 27;14:874. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.00874. eCollection 2020.


Alzheimer's disease (AD), a chronic multifactorial and complex neurodegenerative disorder is a leading cause of dementia. Recently, neuroinflammation has been hypothesized as a contributing factor to AD pathogenesis. The role of adaptive immune responses against neuronal antigens, which can either confer protection or induce damage in AD, has not been fully characterized. Here, we measured T cell responses to several potential antigens of neural origin including amyloid precursor protein (APP), amyloid beta (Aβ), tau, α-synuclein, and transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43) in patients with AD and age-matched healthy controls (HC). Antigen-specific T cell reactivity was detected for all tested antigens, and response to tau-derived epitopes was particularly strong, but no significant differences between individuals with AD and age-matched HC were identified. We also did not observe any correlation between the antigen-specific T cell responses and clinical variables including age, gender, years since diagnosis and cognitive score. Additionally, further characterization did not reveal any differences in the relative frequency of major Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC) subsets, or in the expression of genes between AD patients and HC. These observations have not identified a key role of neuronal antigen-specific T cell responses in AD.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; T cell responses; autoimmunity; neuroantigens; neurodegenration; transcriptomics.