β-Amyloid aggregates found in brain plaques are viewed as triggers of cytotoxicity and neuroinflammation in Alzheimer disease (AD). However, the main β-amyloid (Aβ) species and what imbues the aggregates with such toxic potential are still not yet understood. In this issue of the JCI, Roy et al. show that Aβ complexed with nucleic acids triggers an antiviral type I interferon response in neuroglia, resulting in complement-mediated synapse elimination in AD models. These findings identify a putative endogenous immune signaling axis that drives neurodegeneration in AD and has strong implications for the development of precise therapeutic strategies.
Stefano Pluchino, Cory Willis