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2017 Grants - Clelland
Microglia transplantation in a murine model of Alzheimer's disease
Claire Clelland, Ph.D., M.D., M.Phil.
The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, California
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Clinician Scientist Fellowship (AACSF)
Can transplanting healthy immune cells into the brain improve Alzheimer’s disease symptoms?
Immune cells called microglia circulate in the brain and spinal cord to help protect the central nervous system. They are one of the body’s primary defenses against damage from Alzheimer’s disease. Microglia migrate to disease sites to help remove harmful amyloid plaques caused by Alzheimer’s. Recent research suggests that activating microglia could enhance the body’s defenses against Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers can grow microglia in the laboratory using a special kind of stem cell that can be obtained non-invasively from human skin cells. The stem cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), can be reprogrammed into many cell types including microglia. Healthy immune cells grown in the laboratory could serve as therapeutics to treat people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Claire Clelland, Ph.D., M.D., M.Phil., and colleagues have proposed to grow human microglia in their laboratory and transplant the cells into the brains of mice with an Alzheimer’s-like condition. They will grow microglia from iPSCs donated by healthy adults. During the grant period, the researchers plan to optimize transplant conditions and determine if transplanting healthy microglia into Alzheimer’s-like mice influences mouse cognition. The researchers hypothesize that successful microglia transplants will have long-lasting benefits, and may improve brain function in Alzheimer’s-like mice.
The results may also help scientists understand exactly how microglia contribute to the body’s defense against neurodegenerative disease. If successful, this study could pave the way for research into cell transplants to treat people living with Alzheimer’s disease.