A novel strategy based on targeted immune suppression using human umbilical cord blood cells may improve the pathology and cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease, based on the results of a study in a mouse model of this currently untreatable neurodegenerative condition, as described in a new report in Stem Cells and Development.
Following a series of low-dose infusions of human umbilical cord blood cells into mice with Alzheimer's-like disease, the amount of amyloid-ß and ß-amyloid plaques--hallmarks of Alzheimer's pathology in the brain--was markedly reduced. Amyloid-ß induces an inflammatory response in the brain associated with the interaction of CD40 and CD40L, two pro-inflammatory molecules.
Human umbilical cord blood cell therapy was associated with suppression of CD40-CD40L activity, suggesting that this therapeutic approach modulates the activity of the immune system, offering the potential to target the pathogenic inflammatory response that may contribute to a variety of degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease.
Jun Tan, PhD, MD, and colleagues from USF (Tampa), Yale University (New Haven, CT), Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA), Saneron CCEL Therapeutics (Tampa, FL), and Saitama Medical School (Japan), concluded that human umbilical cord blood cell-induced disruption of the CD40-CD40L interaction may alleviate the key pathologic changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease in a report entitled, "Peripherally administered human umbilical cord blood cells reduce parenchymal and vascular beta-amyloid deposits in Alzheimer mice."
Dr. Tan, Robert A. Silver Chair, Rashid Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at Silver Child Development Center, University of South Florida Department of Psychiatry, said “Our study is the first to report that the potential therapeutic mechanism of umbilical cord blood cells is more through targeting and fixing this malevolent peripheral immune functioning rather than through direct interaction with neurons. We believe restoring the balance between molecules that promote and inhibit inflammation could play a big role in future treatment strategies against Alzheimer’s disease.”
"Previously, challenging observations have reported phenomena suggesting the non-hematologic therapeutic potential of blood stem cells. What is novel about this paper is its application to Alzheimer's disease, and a significant advance in characterizing the ameliorative mechanism of action" says Graham C. Parker, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Stem Cells and Development, and a research professor in The Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Journal reference: Peripherally Administered Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Reduce Parenchymal and Vascular β-Amyloid Deposits in Alzheimer Mice. Stem Cells and Development. doi:10.1089/scd.2008.0018
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