Neurobiology of disease

Immunization with Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) alleviates neuroinflammation and cognitive deficits in APP/PS1 mice via the recruitment of inflammation-resolving monocytes to the brain.

PMID 28189498


The immune system plays a crucial role in the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, immune-dependent cascade induced by systemic immune activation has been verified to play a beneficial role in AD mouse models. Here, we tested whether Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization alters AD pathology and cognitive dysfunction in APP/PS1 AD mouse model, and with 4Aβ1-15 vaccination as positive control. It was found that BCG treatment reversed the cognitive decline to the extent observed in 4Aβ1-15 group, but did not reduce the β-amyloid (Aβ) burden in the brain. Then, we demonstrated the enhanced recruitment of inflammation-resolving monocytes across the choroid plexus and perivascular spaces to cerebral sites of plaque pathology in APP/PS1 mice immunized with BCG. Furthermore, elevated splenocyte Foxp3(+) regulatory T cell levels in the control APP/PS1 mice were down-regulated back to the wild-type (WT) levels by BCG treatment but not 4Aβ1-15 vaccination. In addition, BCG treatment induced the production of more circulating interferon (IFN)-γ than the controls and 4Aβ1-15 vaccination. Though the similar reductions in brain levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines were observed in the BCG and 4Aβ1-15 groups compared to the controls, only BCG had the great effect in upregulating cerebral anti-inflammatory cytokine levels as well as elevating the expression of neurotrophic factors in the brain of APP/PS1 mice. Thus, it is suggested that BCG exerts a beneficial immunomodulatory effect in APP/PS1 mice through mitigation of systemic immune suppression, induction of IFN-γ response and alleviation of the neuroinflammatory response.

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