A selective thyroid hormone β receptor agonist enhances human and rodent oligodendrocyte differentiation.

Nerve conduction within the mammalian central nervous system is made efficient by oligodendrocyte-derived myelin. Historically, thyroid hormones have a well described role in regulating oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination during development; however, it remains unclear which thyroid hormone receptors are required to drive these effects. This is a question with clinical relevance since nonspecific thyroid receptor stimulation can produce deleterious side-effects. Here we report that GC-1, a thyromimetic with selective thyroid receptor β action and a potentially limited side-effect profile, promotes in vitro oligodendrogenesis from both rodent and human oligodendrocyte progenitor cells. In addition, we used in vivo genetic fate tracing of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells via PDGFαR-CreER;Rosa26-eYFP double-transgenic mice to examine the effect of GC-1 on cellular fate and find that treatment with GC-1 during developmental myelination promotes oligodendrogenesis within the corpus callosum, occipital cortex and optic nerve. GC-1 was also observed to enhance the expression of the myelin proteins MBP, CNP and MAG within the same regions. These results indicate that a β receptor selective thyromimetic can enhance oligodendrocyte differentiation in vitro and during developmental myelination in vivo and warrants further study as a therapeutic agent for demyelinating models.

NG2+ CNS glial progenitors remain committed to the oligodendrocyte lineage in postnatal life and following neurodegeneration.

The mammalian CNS contains a ubiquitous population of glial progenitors known as NG2+ cells that have the ability to develop into oligodendrocytes and undergo dramatic changes in response to injury and demyelination. Although it has been reported that NG2+ cells are multipotent, their fate in health and disease remains controversial. Here, we generated PDGFαR-CreER transgenic mice and followed their fate in vivo in the developing and adult CNS. These studies revealed that NG2+ cells in the postnatal CNS generate myelinating oligodendrocytes, but not astrocytes or neurons. In regions of neurodegeneration in the spinal cord of ALS mice, NG2+ cells exhibited enhanced proliferation and accelerated differentiation into oligodendrocytes but remained committed to the oligodendrocyte lineage. These results indicate that NG2+ cells in the normal CNS are oligodendrocyte precursors with restricted lineage potential and that cell loss and gliosis are not sufficient to alter the lineage potential of these progenitors.