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Neuron. 2002 Dec 5;36(5):855-68.

Adenosine: a neuron-glial transmitter promoting myelination in the CNS in response to action potentials.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Synaptic Neurophysiology, National Institutes of Health, NICHD, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Neuronal activity influences myelination of the brain, but the molecular mechanisms involved are largely unknown. Here, we report that oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) express functional adenosine receptors, which are activated in response to action potential firing. Adenosine acts as a potent neuron-glial transmitter to inhibit OPC proliferation, stimulate differentiation, and promote the formation of myelin. This neuron-glial signal provides a molecular mechanism for promoting oligodendrocyte development and myelination in response to impulse activity and may help resolve controversy on the opposite effects of impulse activity on myelination in the central and peripheral nervous systems.

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