Research Article

Neuronal Activity Promotes Oligodendrogenesis and Adaptive Myelination in the Mammalian Brain

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Science  10 Apr 2014:
1252304
DOI: 10.1126/science.1252304

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Abstract

Myelination of the central nervous system requires the generation of functionally mature oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC). Electrically active neurons may influence OPC function and selectively instruct myelination of an active neural circuit. Here, we use optogenetic stimulation of premotor cortex in awake, behaving mice to demonstrate that neuronal activity elicits a mitogenic response of neural progenitor cells and OPCs, promotes oligodendrogenesis and increases myelination within the deep layers of the premotor cortex and subcortical white matter. We further show that this neuronal activity-regulated oligodendrogenesis and myelination is associated with improved motor function of the corresponding limb. Oligodendrogenesis and myelination appear necessary for the observed functional improvement, as epigenetic blockade of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin changes prevents the activity-regulated behavioral improvement.

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