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Therapeutic potential to target sialylation and SIGLECs in neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.

Frontiers in neurology

Authors: Jannis Wißfeld, Tawfik Abou Assale, German Cuevas-Rios, Huan Liao, Harald Neumann

Sialic acids, commonly found as the terminal carbohydrate on the glycocalyx of mammalian cells, are pivotal checkpoint inhibitors of the innate immune system, particularly within the central nervous system (CNS). Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectins (SIGLECs) expressed on microglia are key players in maintaining microglial homeostasis by recognizing intact sialylation. The finely balanced sialic acid-SIGLEC system ensures the prevention of excessive and detrimental immune responses in the CNS. However, loss of sialylation and SIGLEC receptor dysfunctions contribute to several chronic CNS diseases. Genetic variants of /, , and have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, while sialyltransferase and / have been linked to psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Consequently, immune-modulatory functions of polysialic acids and SIGLEC binding antibodies have been exploited experimentally in animal models of Alzheimer's disease and inflammation-induced CNS tissue damage, including retinal damage. While the potential of these therapeutic approaches is evident, only a few therapies to target either sialylation or SIGLEC receptors have been tested in patient clinical trials. Here, we provide an overview of the critical role played by the sialic acid-SIGLEC axis in shaping microglial activation and function within the context of neurodegeneration and synaptopathies and discuss the current landscape of therapies that target sialylation or SIGLECs.

Copyright © 2024 Wißfeld, Abou Assale, Cuevas-Rios, Liao and Neumann.

PMID: 38529039

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