British researchers recently identified a protein driving brain inflammation, CSF1R, which they think may be the driving force behind the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
The study, "Pharmacological targeting of CSF1R inhibits microglial proliferation and prevents the progression of Alzheimer’s-like pathology" and published in the journal Brain, could be a significant step forward in the understanding of mechanisms contributing to Alzheimer’s pathology.
Researchers long suspected that inflammation is involved in AD, but have been less certain as which is "the hen" and which is "the egg" — i.e., is the pathology driving inflammation, or vice versa. However, Adrian Olmos-Alonso and colleagues from the University of Southampton, U.K., clearly show that inflammation is driving pathology in AD.
Researchers found that AD patients' brains harbored increased numbers of microglia, or brain immune cells. There were also signs of an increased expansion rate of microglia, and the team noticed that the cells displayed high expression of many inflammatory genes — in particular, they saw significant increases in the CSF1R pathway, a receptor for CSF1, an immune molecule responsible for the production and function of microglia.
To investigate the effects of CSF1R in more detail, the team used a mouse model of AD. They observed a similar increase in the number of microglial cells in AD mice, which became more abundant in older animals and were multiplying close to β-amyloid plaqu