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.
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.
Comment on “PDGFRA/NG2 glia generate myelinating oligodendrocytes and piriform projection neurons in adult mice.” [Nat Neurosci. 2008]