Immune to Brain Communication in Health, Age and Disease: Implications for Understanding Age-Related Neurodegeneration

Jessica L. Teeling and Ayodeji A. Asuni


The biggest threat to healthy ageing is the loss of our brain or eye function. Dementia and age-related vision loss are major causes of disability in our ageing population and it is estimated that a third of people aged over 75 are affected. Misfolded proteins, such as amyloid beta or alpha synuclein, pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, are generally believed to be causative in the pathogenesis of these devastating disorders. However, analysis of post-mortem brain tissue from healthy older individuals has provided evidence that the presence of misfolded proteins alone does not correlate with cognitive decline and dementia, implying that additional factors are critical for neural dysfunction. We now know that innate immune genes and life-style contribute to the onset and progression of age-related neuronal dysfunction, suggesting that chronic activation of the immune system plays a key role in the underlying mechanisms that lead to irreversible tissue damage in the CNS. In this chapter we will discuss if, and how, the immune system regulates the CNS, which additional risk factor(s) contribute to the underlying mechanisms leading to neuronal dysfunction and whether intervention or immune modulation may be beneficial for those at risk of developing a devastating neurodegenerative disease. In particular, we will focus on the role of systemic infections and discuss the role of both the innate and the adaptive immune system in health, age and disease.

J.L. Teeling (H)

Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

A. A. Asuni

Department Neurodegeneration In Vivo, H. Lundbeck A/S, Ottiliavej 9, 2500 Valby, Denmark © Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017 V. Bueno et al. (eds.), The Ageing Immune System and Health, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-43365-3_8


Innate and adaptive immunity • Brain • Alzheimer’s disease • Parkinson’s disease • TNFa • Regulatory T cell • Systemic inflammation • Bacterial infection

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