Understanding How Newly Approved Anti-Amyloid Drugs Affect Blood Vessels

Principal Investigator

Co-Principal Investigator

Project Goals

The aim of this project is to determine what underlies the cerebrovascular side effects of newly approved anti-amyloid-beta immunotherapies for Alzheimer's disease.

Project Summary

With the positive news of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of anti-amyloid-beta antibody treatments, or immunotherapies, comes the downside of side effects. ARIA, which stands for amyloid-related imaging abnormalities, is a well-known phenomenon associated with these treatments and reflects damage to blood vessels in the brain. How this damage arises and how to prevent or treat it remain unclear. 

Kate Emily Foley, PhD, and her colleagues aim to fill in some gaps in this knowledge by evaluating how microglia and astrocytes, which are immune and support cells in the brain, respond to these immunotherapies. For their work, they will sequence RNA molecules that each cell produces in response to acute or chronic exposure to the therapy. These state-of-the-art sequencing tools will reveal how cells react even before ARIA develops. 

With this information in hand, Dr. Foley and coworkers will focus on a protein that adversely affects the brain's blood vessels. This protein, called matrix metallopeptidase 9, or MMP9, offers a target that could be manipulated to reduce ARIA. Lab models that lack the gene for MMP9 may show less activation of the process that leads to immunotherapy-related ARIA. To confirm this possibility, the researchers will work with lab models and with postmortem tissue samples to assess how MMP9 affects the brain's blood vessels.

The results are expected to generate important information about pathways that could be targeted in cells to slow or prevent ARIA in people receiving antibody therapy.


First published on: March 19, 2024

Last modified on: July 22, 2024