NYC Healthcare News



GM-CSF protein reduces AD pathology, reverses memory loss: Study

October 31, 2015

After the 10th day of injections, all the mice began a series of behavioral testing. At the end of the 20-day study, the cognitively impaired mice treated with GM-CSF performed substantially better on tests measuring their working memory and learning. In fact, their memories were similar to normal aged mice without dementia. Even the normal mice treated with GM-CSF performed slightly better than their untreated peers. The Alzheimer's mice administered saline continued to do poorly on the tests.

"We were pretty amazed that the treatment completely reversed cognitive impairment in 20 days," said Tim Boyd, PhD, who, together with Steven Bennett, PhD, is a study lead author.

In addition, the brains of GM-CSF-treated Alzheimer's mice showed more than a 50-percent decrease in beta amyloid, a substance forming the sticky clumps of plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. This reduction in Alzheimer's plaques and associated restoration of memory was accompanied by more immune cells known as microglia in the brain. Microglia are like the body's natural garbage collection cells that rush to damaged or inflamed areas to get rid of toxic substances.

The researchers suggest that GM-CSF boosted during the immune system overdrive of rheumatoid arthritis helps harness the beneficial properties of inflammation in the brain. The protein may do this by recruiting more microglia from the peripheral blood into the brain to remove Alzheimer's plaques, Dr. Potter said. An apparent increase in neural cell connections in the brains of the GM-CSF-treated mice may also help explain GM-CSF's association with improving memory decline in Alzheimer's disease, the researchers said.

The USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute plans to begin a pilot clinical trial later this year investigating GM-CSF (Leukine) in patients with mild or moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Source: University of South Florida (USF Health)