Using human umbilical cord blood cells may improve the pathology associated with Alzheimer's disease, finds a new study on mice.
Researchers at the University of South Florida along with colleagues from other universities found that when human umbilical cord blood was infused into mice with Alzheimer's-like disease, the amount of amyloid-ß and ß-amyloid plaques - hallmarks of Alzheimer's pathology in the brain - was reduced by 62 percent.
The doses of the cord blood were low.
The boffins also found that umbilical cord blood cell therapy also led to an 86-percent improvement in cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), another hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.
They also reported that this type of therapy also appeared to the activity of two pro-inflammatory molecules called CD40 and CD40L, leading researchers to believe that this therapeutic approach may offer the potential to target the pathogenic inflammatory response that contributes to Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative conditions.
"It has been well documented that altered immune functioning, characterized by the presence of molecules and cells that promote inflammation, can accelerate the progression of Alzheimer's disease," said senior study author Jun Tan, PhD, MD, Robert A. Silver Chair, Rashid Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology at Silver Child Development Center, USF Department of Psychiatry.
"Our study is the first to report that the potential therapeutic mechanism of umbilical cord blood cells is more through targeting and fixing this malevolent peripheral immune functioning rather than through direct interaction with neurons. We believe restoring the balance between molecules that promote and inhibit inflammation could play a big role in future treatment strategies against Alzheimer's disease."
Added co-author Paul R. Sanberg, PhD, DSc, director of the USF Center for Aging and Brain Repair: "Our previous studies have shown HUCBC can provide protection to other organs as well as the brain. Their multifunctional capabilities have excited scientists who have identified a significant presence of stem cells among umbilical cord blood cells."
"This study may open a door to a new field focusing on studying these molecular mechanisms in detail, and hopefully use them in the future not just for Alzheimer's disease, but for other neurological or systemic chronic diseases."
Supported by the National Institutes of Health Small Business Technology Transfer program, the Florida Hi-Tech Corridor, the Johnnie B. Byrd Sr. Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute, and Saneron CCEL Therapeutics, Inc, the study is published online in the peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells and Development.