Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Myelin


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


The enteric nervous system (ENS) undergoes neuronal loss and degenerative changes with age. The cause of this neurodegeneration is poorly understood. Muscularis macrophages residing in close proximity to enteric ganglia maintain neuromuscular function via direct crosstalk with enteric neurons and have been implicated in the pathogenesis of GI motility disorders like gastroparesis and postoperative ileus. The aim of this study was to assess whether ageing causes alterations in macrophage phenotype that contributes to age-related degeneration of the ENS.

Concepts: Myelin, Brain, Synapse, Axon, Neurotransmitter, Ganglion, Nervous system, Neuron


Axons are neuronal processes specialized for conduction of action potentials (APs). The timing and temporal precision of APs when they reach each of the synapses are fundamentally important for information processing in the brain. Due to small diameters of axons, direct recording of single AP transmission is challenging. Consequently, most knowledge about axonal conductance derives from modeling studies or indirect measurements. We demonstrate a method to noninvasively and directly record individual APs propagating along millimeter-length axonal arbors in cortical cultures with hundreds of microelectrodes at microsecond temporal resolution. We find that cortical axons conduct single APs with high temporal precision (~100 µs arrival time jitter per mm length) and reliability: in more than 8,000,000 recorded APs, we did not observe any conduction or branch-point failures. Upon high-frequency stimulation at 100 Hz, successive became slower, and their arrival time precision decreased by 20% and 12% for the 100th AP, respectively.

Concepts: Myelin, Cerebral cortex, Nervous system, Synapse, Brain, Axon, Action potential, Neuron


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


Following traumatic spinal cord injury, acute demyelination of spinal axons is followed by a period of spontaneous remyelination. However, this endogenous repair response is suboptimal and may account for the persistently compromised function of surviving axons. Spontaneous remyelination is largely mediated by Schwann cells, where demyelinated central axons, particularly in the dorsal columns, become associated with peripheral myelin. The molecular control, functional role and origin of these central remyelinating Schwann cells is currently unknown. The growth factor neuregulin-1 (Nrg1, encoded by NRG1) is a key signalling factor controlling myelination in the peripheral nervous system, via signalling through ErbB tyrosine kinase receptors. Here we examined whether Nrg1 is required for Schwann cell-mediated remyelination of central dorsal column axons and whether Nrg1 ablation influences the degree of spontaneous remyelination and functional recovery following spinal cord injury. In contused adult mice with conditional ablation of Nrg1, we found an absence of Schwann cells within the spinal cord and profound demyelination of dorsal column axons. There was no compensatory increase in oligodendrocyte remyelination. Removal of peripheral input to the spinal cord and proliferation studies demonstrated that the majority of remyelinating Schwann cells originated within the injured spinal cord. We also examined the role of specific Nrg1 isoforms, using mutant mice in which only the immunoglobulin-containing isoforms of Nrg1 (types I and II) were conditionally ablated, leaving the type III Nrg1 intact. We found that the immunoglobulin Nrg1 isoforms were dispensable for Schwann cell-mediated remyelination of central axons after spinal cord injury. When functional effects were examined, both global Nrg1 and immunoglobulin-specific Nrg1 mutants demonstrated reduced spontaneous locomotor recovery compared to injured controls, although global Nrg1 mutants were more impaired in tests requiring co-ordination, balance and proprioception. Furthermore, electrophysiological assessments revealed severely impaired axonal conduction in the dorsal columns of global Nrg1 mutants (where Schwann cell-mediated remyelination is prevented), but not immunoglobulin-specific mutants (where Schwann cell-mediated remyelination remains intact), providing robust evidence that the profound demyelinating phenotype observed in the dorsal columns of Nrg1 mutant mice is related to conduction failure. Our data provide novel mechanistic insight into endogenous regenerative processes after spinal cord injury, demonstrating that Nrg1 signalling regulates central axon remyelination and functional repair and drives the trans-differentiation of central precursor cells into peripheral nervous system-like Schwann cells that remyelinate spinal axons after injury. Manipulation of the Nrg1 system could therefore be exploited to enhance spontaneous repair after spinal cord injury and other central nervous system disorders with a demyelinating

Concepts: Peripheral nervous system, Oligodendrocyte, Central nervous system, Neuron, Action potential, Axon, Myelin, Nervous system


The devastating neurodegenerative disease multiple sclerosis (MS) could substantially benefit from an adeno-associated virus (AAV) immunotherapy designed to restore a robust and durable antigen-specific tolerance. However, developing a sufficiently potent and lasting immune-regulatory therapy that can intervene in ongoing disease is a major challenge and has thus been elusive. We addressed this problem by developing a highly effective and robust tolerance-inducing in vivo gene therapy. Using a pre-clinical animal model, we designed a liver-targeting gene transfer vector that expresses full-length myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) in hepatocytes. We show that by harnessing the tolerogenic nature of the liver, this powerful gene immunotherapy restores immune tolerance by inducing functional MOG-specific regulatory T cells (Tregs) in vivo, independent of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) restrictions. We demonstrate that mice treated prophylactically are protected from developing disease and neurological deficits. More importantly, we demonstrate that when given to mice with preexisting disease, ranging from mild neurological deficits to severe paralysis, the gene immunotherapy abrogated CNS inflammation and significantly reversed clinical symptoms of disease. This specialized approach for inducing antigen-specific immune tolerance has significant therapeutic potential for treating MS and other autoimmune disorders.

Concepts: Medicine, Virus, Myelin, Adeno-associated virus, Gene, Multiple sclerosis, Major histocompatibility complex, Immune system


The clinical applicability of direct cell fate conversion depends on obtaining tissue from patients that is easy to harvest, store, and manipulate for reprogramming. Here, we generate induced neural progenitor cells (iNPCs) from neonatal and adult peripheral blood using single-factor OCT4 reprogramming. Unlike fibroblasts that share molecular hallmarks of neural crest, OCT4 reprogramming of blood was facilitated by SMAD+GSK-3 inhibition to overcome restrictions on neural fate conversion. Blood-derived (BD) iNPCs differentiate in vivo and respond to guided differentiation in vitro, producing glia (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes) and multiple neuronal subtypes, including dopaminergic (CNS related) and nociceptive neurons (peripheral nervous system [PNS]). Furthermore, nociceptive neurons phenocopy chemotherapy-induced neurotoxicity in a system suitable for high-throughput drug screening. Our findings provide an easily accessible approach for generating human NPCs that harbor extensive developmental potential, enabling the study of clinically relevant neural diseases directly from patient cohorts.

Concepts: Synapse, DNA, Central nervous system, Axon, Myelin, Developmental biology, Neuron, Nervous system


Hidden hearing loss (HHL) is a recently described auditory neuropathy believed to contribute to speech discrimination and intelligibility deficits in people with normal audiological tests. Animals and humans with HHL have normal auditory thresholds but defective cochlear neurotransmission, that is, reduced suprathreshold amplitude of the sound-evoked auditory nerve compound action potential. Currently, the only cellular mechanism known for HHL is loss of inner hair cell synapses (synaptopathy). Here we report that transient loss of cochlear Schwann cells results in permanent auditory deficits characteristic of HHL. This auditory neuropathy is not associated with synaptic loss, but rather with disruption of the first heminodes at the auditory nerve peripheral terminal. Thus, this study identifies a new mechanism for HHL, highlights the long-term consequences of transient Schwann cell loss on hearing and might provide insights into the causes of the auditory deficits reported in patients that recover from acute demyelinating diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Concepts: Nodes of Ranvier, Theodor Schwann, Oligodendrocyte, Schwann cell, Myelin, Auditory system, Cochlea, Action potential


Ablation of the cellular prion protein PrP© leads to a chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy affecting Schwann cells. Neuron-restricted expression of PrP© prevents the disease, suggesting that PrP© acts in trans through an unidentified Schwann cell receptor. Here we show that the cAMP concentration in sciatic nerves from PrP©-deficient mice is reduced, suggesting that PrP© acts via a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR). The amino-terminal flexible tail (residues 23-120) of PrP© triggered a concentration-dependent increase in cAMP in primary Schwann cells, in the Schwann cell line SW10, and in HEK293T cells overexpressing the GPCR Adgrg6 (also known as Gpr126). By contrast, naive HEK293T cells and HEK293T cells expressing several other GPCRs did not react to the flexible tail, and ablation of Gpr126 from SW10 cells abolished the flexible tail-induced cAMP response. The flexible tail contains a polycationic cluster (KKRPKPG) similar to the GPRGKPG motif of the Gpr126 agonist type-IV collagen. A KKRPKPG-containing PrP©-derived peptide (FT23-50) sufficed to induce a Gpr126-dependent cAMP response in cells and mice, and improved myelination in hypomorphic gpr126 mutant zebrafish (Danio rerio). Substitution of the cationic residues with alanines abolished the biological activity of both FT23-50 and the equivalent type-IV collagen peptide. We conclude that PrP© promotes myelin homeostasis through flexible tail-mediated Gpr126 agonism. As well as clarifying the physiological role of PrP©, these observations are relevant to the pathogenesis of demyelinating polyneuropathies-common debilitating diseases for which there are limited therapeutic options.

Concepts: Receptor antagonist, Theodor Schwann, Schwann cell, Glial cell, Action potential, Signal transduction, Myelin, Protein


We have investigated whether inkjet printing technology can be extended to print cells of the adult rat central nervous system (CNS), retinal ganglion cells (RGC) and glia, and the effects on survival and growth of these cells in culture, which is an important step in the development of tissue grafts for regenerative medicine, and may aid in the cure of blindness. We observed that RGC and glia can be successfully printed using a piezoelectric printer. Whilst inkjet printing reduced the cell population due to sedimentation within the printing system, imaging of the printhead nozzle, which is the area where the cells experience the greatest shear stress and rate, confirmed that there was no evidence of destruction or even significant distortion of the cells during jet ejection and drop formation. Importantly, the viability of the cells was not affected by the printing process. When we cultured the same number of printed and non-printed RGC/glial cells, there was no significant difference in cell survival and RGC neurite outgrowth. In addition, use of a glial substrate significantly increased RGC neurite outgrowth, and this effect was retained when the cells had been printed. In conclusion, printing of RGC and glia using a piezoelectric printhead does not adversely affect viability and survival/growth of the cells in culture. Importantly, printed glial cells retain their growth-promoting properties when used as a substrate, opening new avenues for printed CNS grafts in regenerative medicine.

Concepts: Ink, Printmaking, Myelin, Central nervous system, Neuron, Nervous system, Inkjet printer, Printing