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Concept: Myelin


Progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) is a severely disabling neurological condition, and an effective treatment is urgently needed. Recently, high-dose biotin has emerged as a promising therapy for affected individuals. Initial clinical data have shown that daily doses of biotin of up to 300 mg can improve objective measures of MS-related disability. In this article, we review the biology of biotin and explore the properties of this ubiquitous coenzyme that may explain the encouraging responses seen in patients with progressive MS. The gradual worsening of neurological disability in patients with progressive MS is caused by progressive axonal loss or damage. The triggers for axonal loss in MS likely include both inflammatory demyelination of the myelin sheath and primary neurodegeneration caused by a state of virtual hypoxia within the neuron. Accordingly, targeting both these pathological processes could be effective in the treatment of progressive MS. Biotin is an essential co-factor for five carboxylases involved in fatty acid synthesis and energy production. We hypothesize that high-dose biotin is exerting a therapeutic effect in patients with progressive MS through two different and complementary mechanisms: by promoting axonal remyelination by enhancing myelin production and by reducing axonal hypoxia through enhanced energy production.

Concepts: Neurology, Oligodendrocyte, Axon, Nervous system, Neuron, Action potential, Myelin, Multiple sclerosis


BackgroundCharcot-Marie-Tooth type 1A disease (CMT1A) is a rare orphan inherited neuropathy caused by an autosomal dominant duplication of a gene encoding for the structural myelin protein PMP22, which induces abnormal Schwann cell differentiation and dysmyelination, eventually leading to axonal suffering then loss and muscle wasting. We favour the idea that diseases can be more efficiently treated when targeting multiple disease-relevant pathways. In CMT1A patients, we therefore tested the potential of PXT3003, a low-dose combination of three already approved compounds (baclofen, naltrexone and sorbitol). Our study conceptually builds on preclinical experiments highlighting a pleiotropic mechanism of action that includes downregulation of PMP22. The primary objective was to assess safety and tolerability of PXT3003. The secondary objective aimed at an exploratory analysis of efficacy of PXT3003 in CMT1A, to be used for designing next clinical development stages (Phase 2b/3).Methods80 adult patients with mild-to-moderate CMT1A received in double-blind for 1 year Placebo or one of the three increasing doses of PXT3003 tested, in four equal groups. Safety and tolerability were assessed with the incidence of related adverse events. Efficacy was assessed using the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Neuropathy Score (CMTNS) and the Overall Neuropathy Limitations Scale (ONLS) as main endpoints, as well as various clinical and electrophysiological outcomes.ResultsThis trial confirmed the safety and tolerability of PXT3003. The highest dose (HD) showed consistent evidence of improvement beyond stabilization. CMTNS and ONLS, with a significant improvement of respectively of 8% (0.4% - 16.2%) and 12.1% (2% - 23.2%) in the HD group versus the pool of all other groups, appear to be the most sensitive clinical endpoints to treatment despite their quasi-stability over one year under Placebo. Patients who did not deteriorate over one year were significantly more frequent in the HD group.ConclusionsThese results confirm that PXT3003 deserves further investigation in adults and could greatly benefit CMT1A-diagnosed children, usually less affected than adults.Trial registrationEudraCT Number: 2010-023097-40. Identifier: NCT01401257. The Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products issued in February 2014 a positive opinion on the application for orphan designation for PXT3003 (EMA/OD/193/13).

Concepts: Action potential, Jean-Martin Charcot, Vincristine, Electromyography, Clinical trial, Schwann cell, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Myelin


Current methods for studying central nervous system myelination necessitate permissive axonal substrates conducive to myelin wrapping by oligodendrocytes. We have developed a neuron-free culture system in which electron-spun nanofibers of varying sizes substitute for axons as a substrate for oligodendrocyte myelination, thereby allowing manipulation of the biophysical elements of axonal-oligodendroglial interactions. To investigate axonal regulation of myelination, this system effectively uncouples the role of molecular (inductive) cues from that of biophysical properties of the axon. We use this method to uncover the causation and sufficiency of fiber diameter in the initiation of concentric wrapping by rat oligodendrocytes. We also show that oligodendrocyte precursor cells display sensitivity to the biophysical properties of fiber diameter and initiate membrane ensheathment before differentiation. The use of nanofiber scaffolds will enable screening for potential therapeutic agents that promote oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination and will also provide valuable insight into the processes involved in remyelination.

Concepts: Saltatory conduction, Multiple sclerosis, Neuron, Oligodendrocyte, Action potential, Myelin, Axon, Nervous system


We previously reported that autosomal recessive demyelinating Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) type 4B1 neuropathy with myelin outfoldings is caused by loss of MTMR2 (Myotubularin-related 2) in humans, and we created a faithful mouse model of the disease. MTMR2 dephosphorylates both PtdIns3P and PtdIns(3,5)P(2), thereby regulating membrane trafficking. However, the function of MTMR2 and the role of the MTMR2 phospholipid phosphatase activity in vivo in the nerve still remain to be assessed. Mutations in FIG4 are associated with CMT4J neuropathy characterized by both axonal and myelin damage in peripheral nerve. Loss of Fig4 function in the plt (pale tremor) mouse produces spongiform degeneration of the brain and peripheral neuropathy. Since FIG4 has a role in generation of PtdIns(3,5)P(2) and MTMR2 catalyzes its dephosphorylation, these two phosphatases might be expected to have opposite effects in the control of PtdIns(3,5)P(2) homeostasis and their mutations might have compensatory effects in vivo. To explore the role of the MTMR2 phospholipid phosphatase activity in vivo, we generated and characterized the Mtmr2/Fig4 double null mutant mice. Here we provide strong evidence that Mtmr2 and Fig4 functionally interact in both Schwann cells and neurons, and we reveal for the first time a role of Mtmr2 in neurons in vivo. Our results also suggest that imbalance of PtdIns(3,5)P(2) is at the basis of altered longitudinal myelin growth and of myelin outfolding formation. Reduction of Fig4 by null heterozygosity and downregulation of PIKfyve both rescue Mtmr2-null myelin outfoldings in vivo and in vitro.

Concepts: Oligodendrocyte, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Glial cell, Schwann cell, Axon, Myelin, Action potential, Nervous system


Following the initial acute stage of spinal cord injury, a cascade of cellular and inflammatory responses will lead to progressive secondary damage of the nerve tissue surrounding the primary injury site. The degeneration is manifested by loss of neurons and glial cells, demyelination and cyst formation. Injury to the mammalian spinal cord results in nearly complete failure of the severed axons to regenerate. We have previously demonstrated that the antioxidants N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) can attenuate retrograde neuronal degeneration after peripheral nerve and ventral root injury. The present study evaluates the effects of NAC and ALC on neuronal survival, axonal sprouting and glial cell reactions after spinal cord injury in adult rats. Tibial motoneurons in the spinal cord were pre-labeled with fluorescent tracer Fast Blue one week before lumbar L5 hemisection. Continuous intrathecal infusion of NAC (2.4 mg/day) or ALC (0.9 mg/day) was initiated immediately after spinal injury using Alzet 2002 osmotic minipumps. Neuroprotective effects of treatment were assessed by counting surviving motoneurons and by using quantitative immunohistochemistry and Western blotting for neuronal and glial cell markers 4 weeks after hemisection. Spinal cord injury induced significant loss of tibial motoneurons in L4-L6 segments. Neuronal degeneration was associated with decreased immunostaining for microtubular-associated protein-2 (MAP2) in dendritic branches, synaptophysin in presynaptic boutons and neurofilaments in nerve fibers. Immunostaining for the astroglial marker GFAP and microglial marker OX42 was increased. Treatment with NAC and ALC rescued approximately half of the motoneurons destined to die. In addition, antioxidants restored MAP2 and synaptophysin immunoreactivity. However, the perineuronal synaptophysin labeling was not recovered. Although both treatments promoted axonal sprouting, there was no effect on reactive astrocytes. In contrast, the microglial reaction was significantly attenuated. The results indicate a therapeutic potential for NAC and ALC in the early treatment of traumatic spinal cord injury.

Concepts: Glial cell, Spinal cord, Synapse, Nervous system, Axon, Myelin, Action potential, Neuron


Studying the function and malfunction of genes and proteins associated with inherited forms of peripheral neuropathies has provided multiple clues to our understanding of myelinated nerves in health and disease. Here, we have generated a mouse model for the peripheral neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4H by constitutively disrupting the mouse orthologue of the suspected culprit gene FGD4 that encodes the small RhoGTPase Cdc42-guanine nucleotide exchange factor Frabin. Lack of Frabin/Fgd4 causes dysmyelination in mice in early peripheral nerve development, followed by profound myelin abnormalities and demyelination at later stages. At the age of 60 weeks, this was accompanied by electrophysiological deficits. By crossing mice carrying alleles of Frabin/Fgd4 flanked by loxP sequences with animals expressing Cre recombinase in a cell type-specific manner, we show that Schwann cell-autonomous Frabin/Fgd4 function is essential for proper myelination without detectable primary contributions from neurons. Deletion of Frabin/Fgd4 in Schwann cells of fully myelinated nerve fibres revealed that this protein is not only required for correct nerve development but also for accurate myelin maintenance. Moreover, we established that correct activation of Cdc42 is dependent on Frabin/Fgd4 function in healthy peripheral nerves. Genetic disruption of Cdc42 in Schwann cells of adult myelinated nerves resulted in myelin alterations similar to those observed in Frabin/Fgd4-deficient mice, indicating that Cdc42 and the Frabin/Fgd4-Cdc42 axis are critical for myelin homeostasis. In line with known regulatory roles of Cdc42, we found that Frabin/Fgd4 regulates Schwann cell endocytosis, a process that is increasingly recognized as a relevant mechanism in peripheral nerve pathophysiology. Taken together, our results indicate that regulation of Cdc42 by Frabin/Fgd4 in Schwann cells is critical for the structure and function of the peripheral nervous system. In particular, this regulatory link is continuously required in adult fully myelinated nerve fibres. Thus, mechanisms regulated by Frabin/Fgd4-Cdc42 are promising targets that can help to identify additional regulators of myelin development and homeostasis, which may crucially contribute also to malfunctions in different types of peripheral neuropathies.

Concepts: Glial cell, Gene, Axon, Schwann cell, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Myelin, Action potential, Nervous system


Abstract There has been only one reported case of neuromuscular scoliosis following chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). However, no cases of scoliosis that were treated with surgery secondary to CIDP have been previously described. A 16-year-old boy with CIDP was consultant due to the progression of scoliosis with the coronal curve of 86° from T8 to T12. Posterior correction and fusion with segmental pedicle screws were performed under intraoperative spinal cord monitoring with transcranial electric motor-evoked potentials. Although the latency period was prolonged and amplitude was low, the potential remained stable. Coronal curve was corrected from 86° to 34° without neurological complications. We here describe scoliosis associated with CIDP, which was successfully treated with surgery under intraoperative spinal cord monitoring.

Concepts: Report, Case, Potential, Surgery, Neurological disorders, Myelin, Medicine, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy


Toxoplasmic retinochoroiditis is a common blinding retinal infection caused by the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. Basic processes relating to establishment of infection in the human eye by T. gondii tachyzoites have not been investigated. To evaluate the ability of tachyzoites to navigate the human retina, we developed an ex vivo assay, in which a suspension containing 1.5×10(7) parasites replaced vitreous in a posterior eyecup. After 8 hours, the retina was formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded, and sections were immunostained to identify tachyzoites. To determine the preference of tachyzoites for human retinal neuronal versus glial populations, we infected dissociated retinal cultures, subsequently characterized by neuron-specific enolase or glial fibrillary acidic protein expression, and retinal cell lines, with YFP-expressing tachyzoites. In migration assays, retinas contained 110-250 live tachyzoites; 64.5-95.2% (mean  = 79.6%) were localized to the nerve fiber layer, but some were detected in the outer retina. Epifluorescence imaging of dissociated retinal cultures 24 hours after infection indicated preferential infection of glia. This observation was confirmed in growth assays, with significantly higher (p≤0.005) numbers of tachyzoites measured in glial verus neuronal cell lines. Our translational studies indicate that, after entering retina, tachyzoites may navigate multiple tissue layers. Tachyzoites preferentially infect glial cells, which exist throughout the retina. These properties may contribute to the success of T. gondii as a human pathogen.

Concepts: Toxoplasmosis, Glial cell, Myelin, Apicomplexa, Toxoplasma gondii, Eye, Retina, Neuron


Glossopharyngeal and/or vagus nerve involvement is infrequent in patients with chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP). We herein report the case of a 69-year-old Japanese woman who presented with muscle weakness and numbness of the extremities with dysphagia. The serum anti-ganglioside GM1 immunoglobulin IgM antibody levels were elevated, and treatment with intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) resulted in a dramatic improvement; the weakness, numbness and dysphagia all resolved. However, relapse comprising dysphagia alone occurred on hospital day 26, and treatment with IVIg again proved extremely effective. IVIg therapy can be effective against cranial nerve involvement in cases of CIDP.

Concepts: Accessory nerve, Nucleus ambiguus, Myelin, Antibody, Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, Immune system, Intravenous immunoglobulin, Cranial nerves


Dietary interventions have not been effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we show that periodic 3-day cycles of a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) are effective in ameliorating demyelination and symptoms in a murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. The FMD reduced clinical severity in all mice and completely reversed symptoms in 20% of animals. These improvements were associated with increased corticosterone levels and regulatory T (Treg) cell numbers and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, TH1 and TH17 cells, and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Moreover, the FMD promoted oligodendrocyte precursor cell regeneration and remyelination in axons in both EAE and cuprizone MS models, supporting its effects on both suppression of autoimmunity and remyelination. We also report preliminary data suggesting that an FMD or a chronic ketogenic diet are safe, feasible, and potentially effective in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients (NCT01538355).

Concepts: Ketosis, Human, Encephalomyelitis, Immune system, Myelin, Protein, Autoimmunity, Multiple sclerosis