Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Molecular Medicine

Major Professor

Jun Tan, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Huntington Potter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paula Bickford, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Inge Wefes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andreas Seyfang, Ph.D.


Inflammation, CD40, Immunization, Human umbilical cord blood cells, Microglia


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of progressive dementia and is characterized by the accumulation of amyloid beta (Aß) peptide in the brain and in the cerebral vessels forming cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). As previously reported, an active immunization strategy of mice with Aß1-42 peptide results in decreased Th1 and increased Th2 cytokine responses as well as an effectively clearance of CNS Aß. This approach has also yielded favorable results for many patients, unfortunately, a small percentage of these study participants developed severe aseptic meningoencephalitis likely secondary to CNS invasion of activated T-cells. We have previously demonstrated that disruption of CD40-40L pathway reduces Aß plaque load, promotes Th2 response, and rescues from cognitive impairments. However, direct blockage of the CD40 pathway by passive vaccination with anti-CD40L antibody leads to immunosupression. Therefore, in its current form this therapeutic strategy poses an unacceptable risk to the recipient of treatment, aged individual. For those reasons, the identification and characterization of alternative modulators/inhibitors of CD40 signaling may be necessary for the development of safe and effective AD immunotherapy.

This proposal introduces novel immunomodulatory therapies that are based on previous vaccination strategies or cell based therapies across medial field. We showed that transcutaneous vaccination can both be efficacious and safe, thus clearly demonstrating that the right combination of the antigens, adjuvants, and the routes of administration are crucial for the right vaccine. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the effects of current Aß vaccine strategies could be enhanced by a simultaneous blockade of CD40-40L signaling. As an alternative approach, we explored the possibility of cell-based therapies and showed that human umbilical cord blood cells, which are currently used as a treatment for systemic lupus erythematosus and leukemia, and currently investigated against stroke, amyotropic lateral sclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease, and showed that not just they improved the AD like pathology in transgenic animals but altered both the brain and peripheral inflammation levels. Lastly, we discussed the involvement of microglia, one of the key players in both AD pathogenesis and Aß clearance and suggesed that microglia in actuality has a continuum of physiological activation states that contribute to proinflammation, antiinflammation, and phagocytosis.