Vaccination against amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) has been shown to be successful in reducing Abeta burden and neurotoxicity in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, although Abeta immunization did not show T cell infiltrates in the brain of these mice, an Abeta vaccination trial resulted in meningoencephalitis in 6% of patients with AD. Here, we explore the characteristics and specificity of Abeta-induced, T cell-mediated encephalitis in a mouse model of the disease. We demonstrate that a strong Abeta-specific T cell response is critically dependent on the immunizing T cell epitope and that epitopes differ depending on MHC genetic background. Moreover, we show that a single immunization with the dominant T cell epitope Abeta10-24 induced transient meningoencephalitis only in amyloid precursor protein (APP)-transgenic (Tg) mice expressing limited amounts of IFN-gamma under an myelin basic protein (MBP) promoter. Furthermore, immune infiltrates were targeted primarily to sites of Abeta plaques in the brain and were associated with clearance of Abeta. Immune infiltrates were not targeted to the spinal cord, consistent with what was observed in AD patients vaccinated with Abeta. Using primary cultures of microglia, we show that IFN-gamma enhanced clearance of Abeta, microglia, and T cell motility, and microglia-T cell immunological synapse formation. Our study demonstrates that limited expression of IFN-gamma in the brain, as observed during normal brain aging, is essential to promote T cell-mediated immune infiltrates after Abeta immunization and provides a model to investigate both the beneficial and detrimental effects of Abeta-specific T cells.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 2006, Vol 103, Issue 13, p. 5048-5053