CXCR3 knock-out in an AD mouse model Chemokines are important modulators of neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. In the brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and in AD animal models, the chemokine CXCL10 is found in high concentrations, suggesting a pathogenic role for this chemokine and its receptor, CXCR3.

Recent studies aimed at addressing the role of CXCR3 in neurological diseases indicate potent, but diverse, functions for CXCR3. Here, we examined the impact of CXCR3 in the amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin 1 (PS1) transgenic mouse model of AD.

We found that, compared with control APP/PSI animals, plaque burden and Aβ levels were strongly reduced in CXCR3-deficient APP/PS1 mice. Analysis of microglial phagocytosis in vitro and in vivo demonstrated that CXCR3 deficiency increased the microglial uptake of Aβ. Application of a CXCR3 antagonist increased microglial Aβ phagocytosis, which was associated with reduced TNF-α secretion. Moreover, in CXCR3-deficient APP/PS1 mice, microglia exhibited morphological activation and reduced plaque association, and brain tissue from APP/PS1 animals lacking CXCR3 had reduced concentrations of proinflammatory cytokines compared with controls. Further, loss of CXCR3 attenuated the behavioral deficits observed in APP/PS1 mice.

Together, our data indicate that CXCR3 signaling mediates development of AD-like pathology in APP/PS1 mice and suggest that CXCR3 has potential as a therapeutic target for AD.

First published December 15, 2014