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J Neurocytol. 2002 Jul-Aug;31(6-7):481-95.

Oligodendrocyte precursor cells: reactive cells that inhibit axon growth and regeneration.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA.


Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are a newly recognized glial component of the adult central nervous system of unknown function. Antibodies against the NG2 chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan have been useful tools to identify these cells in intact tissue. Here we review studies that show that OPCs react to several types of experimentally induced brain injury. Injury stimulates OPCs to re-enter the cell cycle, divide, and accumulate at the site of damage. OPCs, together with microglia and astrocytes, form the glial scar. Glial scars are thought to inhibit or prevent axonal regeneration and reactive OPCs contribute to this inhibition by producing growth-inhibiting chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, particularly NG2. In developing animals, NG2 is found in areas, such as the perinotochordal mesenchyme, that are avoided by growing motor and sensory axons. Within the developing CNS, NG2-expressing cells surround the developing optic chiasm and tract and separate it from the overlying diencephalon. Thus, NG2-expressing cells are well positioned to inhibit axonal growth from developing as well as regenerating neurons.

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