In the relatively short time allotted, Dale Schenk (519.5) managed to describe most of the data from his group’s recent Nature paper (Nature 1999;400:173-177), and a little more. Schenk demonstrated that Aβ immunization of young (six-week-old) mice, in which treatment had begun before the occurrence of plaque pathology, essentially prevented the development of plaque formation and associated changes. Moreover, immunization of older (11-12 month) mice which already had signs of plaque pathology markedly reduced the extent and halted the progression of the Aβ-mediated pathology typically seen in these mice. As to how immunization produces this effect, Schenk speculated that since these mice have high titer antibodies to Aβ in their serum (and ~0.15% of any given circulating antibody can cross the blood-brain barrier) and immunohistochemistry shows Aβ within microglia in regions where remaining plaques are evident, an Fc-mediated uptake and clearance mechanism is probably responsible both for preventing amyloid plaque formation and for mediating plaque removal.

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