A Pilot Trial of Interferon Beta-1a in Alzheimer's Disease

2014-08-27 03:15:37 | BioPortfolio


This was a 52-week, multicentric, phase II, pilot study conducted in 40 subjects with early-onset alzheimer's disease (AD) to evaluate safety, tolerability and clinical efficacy of interferon (IFN) beta-1a [Rebif 22 mcg, three times per week (tiw)] in the treatment of AD by comparing the neuropsychological performance changes into placebo and treatment arms from screening/baseline to 52 week.


Alzheimer's disease is characterised by progressive cognitive impairment resulting from neuronal loss. The primary pathological feature of the disease is the extracellular deposition of fibrillary amyloid and its compaction into senile plaques. The senile plaque is the focus of a complex cellular reaction involving the activation of both microglia and astrocytes adjacent to the amyloid plaque. In fact, microglia are the most abundant and prominent cellular components associated with these plaques. Plaque-associated microglia exhibit a reactive or activated phenotype. Through the acquisition of a reactive phenotype, microglia responds to various stimuli, as is evident by the increased expression of numerous cell-surface molecules, including major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class-II antigens and complement receptors.

Traditionally, multiple sclerosis (MS) has been considered a "demyelinating" disease. Recent immunocytochemical studies suggest that MS may be more than a demyelinating disorder, and that even in early stages of the disease, MS pathological scenario envisages axonal damage. Interferons are the modern therapeutic strategies for the treatment of MS which cytokines proteins which lead to a network of signals within different cells. In the immune system, IFNs act at different levels. For example, IFNs increase the expression of MHC class II antigens and, thereby, facilitate the antigen-presenting process and the activation of lymphocytes. T-lymphocytes are important targets of IFN immunomodulation. In MS, it is believed that IFN-beta suppresses the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as IFN-γ and TNF-α, and increases the production of immunosuppressive cytokines such as interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10. Since the activation of microglia and astrocytes is common to both AD and MS, IFN beta could have therapeutic applications in the treatment of AD. Furthermore, recent studies have also found that through astrocyte production, IFNs promote the activation of nerve-growth factor.


- To evaluate safety, tolerability and clinical efficacy of IFN beta-1a (Rebif 22 mcg, tiw) in the treatment of AD

In this study, subjects were randomised into two groups: the first group (treatment arm, n=20) received Rebif 22 mcg tiw; the second group (placebo arm, n=20) received placebo. The treatment period was for 28 weeks and subjects were followed up to Week 52. Efficacy was determined by comparing neuropsychological performance changes into placebo and treatment arms from screening/baseline to Week 52.

On study Day 1 of the treatment period, subjects received injection training and were administered the first dose of Rebif under the supervision of the clinical personnel by subcutaneous injection tiw at approximately the same time each day preferably in the late afternoon or evening. All subjects received 28 weeks of therapy and after 24 weeks from the therapy conclusion, a termination visit was conducted.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Alzheimer's Disease


Interferon beta-1a, Placebo


U.VA. Neurologia - Azienda Ospedaliera Garibaldi Nesina




Merck KGaA

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:15:37-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Interferon secreted by leukocytes, fibroblasts, or lymphoblasts in response to viruses or interferon inducers other than mitogens, antigens, or allo-antigens. They include alpha- and beta-interferons (INTERFERON-ALPHA and INTERFERON-BETA).

A precursor to the AMYLOID BETA-PROTEIN (beta/A4). Alterations in the expression of the amyloid beta-protein precursor (ABPP) gene, located on chromosome 21, plays a role in the development of the neuropathology common to both ALZHEIMER DISEASE and DOWN SYNDROME. ABPP is associated with the extensive extracellular matrix secreted by neuronal cells. Upon cleavage, this precursor produces three proteins of varying amino acid lengths: 695, 751, and 770. The beta/A4 (695 amino acids) or beta-amyloid protein is the principal component of the extracellular amyloid in senile plaques found in ALZHEIMER DISEASE; DOWN SYNDROME and, to a limited extent, in normal aging.

A ubiquitously expressed heterodimeric receptor that is specific for both INTERFERON-ALPHA and INTERFERON-BETA. It is composed of two subunits referred to as IFNAR1 and IFNAR2. The IFNAR2 subunit is believed to serve as the ligand-binding chain; however both chains are required for signal transduction. The interferon alpha-beta receptor signals through the action of JANUS KINASES such as the TYK2 KINASE.

An interferon regulatory factor that binds upstream TRANSCRIPTIONAL REGULATORY ELEMENTS in the GENES for INTERFERON-ALPHA and INTERFERON-BETA. It functions as a transcriptional activator for the INTERFERON TYPE I genes.

An interferon beta-1 subtype that has a methionine at position 1, a cysteine at position 17, and is glycosylated at position 80. It functions as an ANTI-VIRAL AGENT and IMMUNOMODULATOR and is used to manage the symptoms of RELAPSING-REMITTING MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.

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