First published January 9, 2020 - More info
Type I interferon (IFN) is a key cytokine that curbs viral infection and cell malignancy. Previously, we have demonstrated a potent IFN immunogenicity of nucleic acid (NA)-containing amyloid fibrils in the periphery. Here, we investigated whether IFN is associated with β-amyloidosis inside the brain and contributes to neuropathology. An IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) signature was detected in the brains of multiple murine Alzheimer disease (AD) models, a phenomenon also observed in wild-type mouse brain challenged with generic NA-containing amyloid fibrils. In vitro, microglia innately responded to NA-containing amyloid fibrils. In AD models, activated ISG-expressing microglia exclusively surrounded NA-positive amyloid β plaques, which accumulated in an age-dependent manner. Brain administration of rIFNβ resulted in microglial activation and complement C3-dependent synapse elimination in vivo. Conversely, selective IFN receptor blockade effectively diminished the ongoing microgliosis and synapse loss in AD models. Moreover, we detected activated ISG-expressing microglia enveloping NA-containing neuritic plaques in post-mortem brains of AD patients. Gene expression interrogation revealed that IFN pathway was grossly upregulated in clinical AD and significantly correlated with disease severity and complement activation. Therefore, IFN constitutes a pivotal element within the neuroinflammatory network of AD and critically contributes to neuropathogenic processes.