Newfound traits of myelin-producing cells in MS

Published: 2019-01-25


In a recent study published in the journal Nature, researchers from Karolinska Institutet and the University of Edinburgh, UK, have investigated oligodendrocytes from deceased multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and discovered that subpopulations of these myelin-producing brain cells are altered in MS.

The SciLifeLab Eukaryotic Single Cell Genomics facility enabled the determination of genetic activity of individual cells in MS-affected brain regions using single-nuclei RNA sequencing. Data showschanges in different oligodendrocyte subpopulations, suggesting a more complex role of these cells in the pathology of the disease, but also in regeneration of new cells. For example, oligodendrocyte precursor cells, thought to have a crucial role in relapsing-remitting MS to restore myelin, are depleted in the progressive disease. The researchers also found novel markers that can be useful for the neuropathological characterisation of MS.

“We found changes in different oligodendrocyte subpopulations in MS, suggesting a more complex role of these cells in the pathology of the disease, but also in regeneration of new cells,” says Gonçalo Castelo-Branco (Karolinska Institutet), one of the lead researchers of the study in a press release from Karolinska Institutet.

“Understanding which types of oligodendrocytes are most beneficial in repairing myelin will be crucial for maximising the chances of developing much-needed treatments for MS,” says Professor Anna Williams of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh who also collaborated on the paper.

Read the full paper in Nature