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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 21;106(16):6832-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812500106. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

Extensive remyelination of the CNS leads to functional recovery.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, 2015 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jul 21;106(29):12208. Dosage error in article text.


Remyelination of the CNS in multiple sclerosis is thought to be important to restore conduction and protect axons against degeneration. Yet the role that remyelination plays in clinical recovery of function remains unproven. Here, we show that cats fed an irradiated diet during gestation developed a severe neurologic disease resulting from extensive myelin vacuolation and subsequent demyelination. Despite the severe myelin degeneration, axons remained essentially intact. There was a prompt endogenous response by cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage to the demyelination, with remyelination occurring simultaneously. Cats that were returned to a normal diet recovered slowly so that by 3-4 months they were neurologically normal. Histological examination of the CNS at this point showed extensive remyelination that was especially notable in the optic nerve where almost the entire nerve was remyelinated. Biochemical analysis of the diet and tissues from affected cats showed no dietary deficiencies or toxic accumulations. Thus, although the etiology of this remarkable disease remains unknown, it shows unequivocally that where axons are preserved remyelination is the default pathway in the CNS in nonimmune-mediated demyelinating disease. Most importantly, it confirms the clinical relevance of remyelination and its ability to restore function.

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