Recent genetic evidence supports a link between microglia and the complement system in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In this study, we uncovered a novel role for the microglial complement receptor 3 (CR3) in the regulation of soluble β-amyloid (Aβ) clearance independent of phagocytosis. Unexpectedly, ablation of CR3 in human amyloid precursor protein–transgenic mice results in decreased, rather than increased, Aβ accumulation. In line with these findings, cultured microglia lacking CR3 are more efficient than wild-type cells at degrading extracellular Aβ by secreting enzymatic factors, including tissue plasminogen activator. Furthermore, a small molecule modulator of CR3 reduces soluble Aβ levels and Aβ half-life in brain interstitial fluid (ISF), as measured by in vivo microdialysis. These results suggest that CR3 limits Aβ clearance from the ISF, illustrating a novel role for CR3 and microglia in brain Aβ metabolism and defining a potential new therapeutic target in AD.
- Submitted: 30 November 2016
- Revision received 31 January 2017
- Accepted: 3 February 2017
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