Passive Immunotherapy Targeting Tau Oligomeric Strains Reverses Tauopathy Phenotypes in Aged Human-Tau Mice in a Mouse Model-Specific Manner

Alice Bittar, Rabab Al-Lahham, Nemil Bhatt, Kenya Moore, Mauro Montalbano, Cynthia Jerez, Leiana Fung, Salome Mcallen, Anna Ellsworth, Rakez Kayed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tau oligomers are one of the most toxic species, displaying prion-like strains which have different conformations resulting in different tauopathies. Passive immunotherapy targeting different tau species is a promising therapeutic approach. Age is one of the greatest risk factors; however, most immunotherapy studies are done in young to middle-aged mice tauopathy models, which is not representative of the many clinical trials done with older humans with established tauopathies. Objective: We utilized two different clones of tau oligomer monoclonal antibodies (TOMAs) in aged Htau and JNPL3 mouse models to investigate the potential of passive immunotherapy. Methods: Aged mice received a single intravenous injection of 120μg/animal of either TOMA1, TOMA3 clones or a non-specific IgG. Their cognitive functions were assessed one-week post-injection using Y-maze and novel object recognition tests. Brain tissues were analyzed using biochemical and immunological assays. Results: TOMA 1 and 3 rescues cognitive phenotypes in aged animals in a mouse model-specific manner, indicative by a reduction in tau oligomers levels. The TOMAs were shown to have strong reactivity with different tau oligomeric species in the different mouse models in vitro and ex vivo. Conclusion: This is the first study testing tau passive immunotherapy in aged animals and supports our previous reports on of the role of oligomeric tau in disease progression further validating the potential of TOMAs to rescue the late-stage disease pathology and phenotype. Moreover, this study suggests that multiple tau oligomeric strains exist in aged animals; therefore, it is of great importance to further characterize these strains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1122
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022


  • Aged mouse models
  • TOMA clones
  • brain-derived tau oligomers
  • tau immunotherapy
  • tau oligomers
  • tau oligomers strains
  • tauopathies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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