The aggregation and accumulation of the microtubule-associated protein (Tau) is a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer disease (AD) and many neurodegenerative diseases. For a long time research has focused on neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and other large meta-stable inclusions composed of aggregated hyperphosphorylated tau protein. The correlation between these structures and disease progression produced conflicting results; moreover, the mechanism of their formation remains poorly understood. Lately, the significance and toxicity of NFTs have been challenged and a new aggregated tau entity has emerged as the true pathogenic species in tauopathies and a possible mediator of Aβ toxicity in AD; specifically, aggregates of a size intermediate between monomers and NFTs the so-called tau oligomers. Tremendous efforts have been devoted toward the optimization of a safe vaccine for AD by targeting Aβ peptide; despite the disappointing results, these studies produced a wealth of useful knowledge, which should be considered in developing taubased immunotherapy. Herein, we discuss the evidence supporting the critical role of tau oligomers in AD, the potential and challenges for targeting them by immunotherapy as a novel approach for AD treatment.
Keywords: Tau oligomers, immunotherapy, axonal transport, phosphorylation, neurodegenerative diseases, MTBR, frontotemporal dementia, TFGs, PDC, rTg4510, FTLD-tau, behavioral abnormalities, parkinsonism-dementia
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