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Neuroendocrine immunity in patients with Alzheimer's disease: toward translational epigenetics


The emerging domain of epigenetics in molecular medicine finds application for a variety of patient populations. Here, we present fundamental neuroendocrine immune evidence obtained in patients with senile dementia of the Alzheimer's type (sDAT), and discuss the implications of these data from the viewpoint of translational epigenetics of Alzheimer's disease. We followed 18 subjects with mild sDAT treated with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, and 10 control subjects matched for age in a repeated measure design every six months for 18 months. We monitored psychosocial profile (Mini-Mental State Examination, Functional Assessment Staging, Independence in Activities of Daily Living, Depression, Profile of Moods States) in parallel to immunophenotypic parameters of T cell subpopulations by flow cytometry. Based on change in the mini-mental state score at entry and at 18 months, patients with sDAT were assigned to a "fast progression" (delta greater than 2 points) or to a "slow progression" group (delta less than or equal to 2 points). The change in circulating activated T cells (CD3+Dr+) with time in patients with sDAT was significantly inversely correlated with the change in time in natural killer (NK) cytotoxic activity to cortisol modulation in these patients, which was greater in patients with fast progression, compared to slow progression sDAT. These data indicate underlying neuroendocrine immune processes during progression of sDAT. Our observations suggest that psychoimmune measures such as those we have monitored in this study provide relevant information about the evolving physiological modulation in patients with sDAT during progression of Alzheimer's disease, and point to new or improved translational epigenetic treatment interventions.

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