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J Mol Neurosci. 2008 May;35(1):23-33. Epub 2007 Nov 10.

p38 Mitogen-activated protein kinase regulates myelination.

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Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, 3655 Promenade Sir William Osler, Montreal, QC H3G 1Y6, Canada.


The p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase family is emerging as a crucial signaling molecule for a vast number of cellular functions including cell migration, proliferation, and differentiation. The function of p38 in myelination has only been recently addressed. Using pyridinyl imidazole-based p38 alpha/beta selective inhibitors, we have reported a critical role for this kinase in the regulation of myelination, specifically, in controlling the differentiation of Schwann cells, and oligodendrocytes, the myelinating glia of the peripheral and central nervous systems, respectively. These compounds inhibited the accumulation of myelin-cell-specific markers, including myelin-specific glycosphingolipids, myelin-associated glycoprotein, and myelin basic protein. More significantly, myelination of dorsal root ganglia neurons by oligodendrocytes was irreversibly blocked by p38 inhibitors. Our current studies are focusing on the molecular mechanisms by which p38 regulates oligodendrocyte and Schwann cell differentiation and its role in models of myelination and remyelination.

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