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Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Dec;124(6):847-60. doi: 10.1007/s00401-012-1034-0. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Astrocyte TNFR2 is required for CXCL12-mediated regulation of oligodendrocyte progenitor proliferation and differentiation within the adult CNS.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is characterized by episodes of inflammatory demyelination with progressive failure of remyelination. Prior studies using murine models of MS indicate that remyelination within the adult central nervous system (CNS) requires the expression and activity of TNFR2 and CXCR4 by oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs), promoting their proliferation and differentiation into mature oligodendrocytes. Here, we extend these studies by examining the role of TNFR2 in the expression of the CXCR4 ligand, CXCL12, within the corpus callosum (CC) during cuprizone (CPZ) intoxication and by demonstrating that lentiviral-mediated gene delivery of CXCL12 to the demyelinated CC improves OPC proliferation and myelin expression during remyelination. Activated astrocytes and microglia express both TNFR1 and TNFR2 within the demyelinated CC. However, CPZ intoxicated TNFR2-/- mice exhibit loss of up-regulation of CXCL12 in astrocytes with concomitant decreases in numbers of CXCR4+ NG2+ OPCs within the CC. While CXCR4 antagonism does not affect OPC migration from subventricular zones into the CC, it decreases their proliferation and differentiation within the CC. Stereotactic delivery of lentivirus expressing CXCL12 protein into the CC of acutely demyelinated TNFR2-/- mice increases OPC proliferation and expression of myelin. In contrast, chronically demyelinated wild-type mice, which exhibit significant loss of astrocytes and OPCs, are unable to be rescued via CXCL12 lentivirus alone but instead required engraftment of CXCL12-expressing astrocytes for increased myelin expression. Our results show that TNFR2 activation induces CXCL12 expression in the demyelinated CC via autocrine signaling specifically within astrocytes, which promotes OPC proliferation and differentiation. In addition, gene delivery of critical pro-myelinating proteins might be a feasible approach for the treatment of remyelination failure in MS.

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