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Anti-inflammatory and Immune Therapy for Alzheimer's Disease: Current Status and Future Directions

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From the initial characterizations of inflammatory responses in Alzheimer's disease (AD) affected brains, namely the demonstration of activated microglia and reactive astrocytes, complement system activation, increased production of proinflammatory cytokines, and evidence for microglial-produced neurotoxins, there was hope that reducing inflammation might be a feasible treatment for this memory-robbing disease. This hope was supported by a number of epidemiology studies demonstrating that patients who took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs had significantly lower risk of developing AD. However, clinical trials of anti-inflammatories have not shown effectiveness, and in recent years, the concept of immune therapy has become a treatment option as animal studies and clinical trials with Aβ vaccines have demonstrated enhanced amyloid removal through stimulation of microglial phagocytosis.

This review will examine the current status of whether inhibiting inflammation is a valid therapeutic target for treating AD; what lessons have come from the clinical trials; what new pathways and classes of agents are being considered; and how this field of research can progress towards new therapeutics. We will examine a number of agents that have shown effectiveness in reducing inflammation amongst other demonstrated mechanisms of action. The major focus of much AD drug discovery has been in identifying agents that have antiamyloid properties; however, a number of these agents were first identified for their anti-inflammatory properties. As drug development and clinical testing is a costly and lengthy endeavor, sound justification of new therapeutic targets is required. Possible future directions for AD anti-inflammatory or immune clearance therapy will be discussed based on recent experimental data.

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Keywords: NSAIDS; Neurodegeneration; amyloid beta; cytokines; dementia; microglia; neuroprotection; vaccination

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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  • Current Neuropharmacology aims to provide current, timely and comprehensive reviews of all areas of neuropharmacology and related matters of neuroscience. The journal publishes reviews written by experts and leaders in the fields of molecular, cellular, and systems/behavioural aspects of neuropharmacology and neuroscience. The journal serves as a comprehensive, multidisciplinary expert forum for neuropharmacologists and neuroscientists.
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