Myelination is essential for normal nervous system development, and the juvenile period is a major period of myelination. Differentiation of the oligodendrocyte, the myelinating cell of the CNS, is tightly regulated, and disruption of oligodendrocyte development leads to neurologic problems, such as periventricular leukomalacia and retardation. How injury during this period impacts myelination is poorly understood, although ischemic damage in the perinatal period or adults damages oligodendrocytes along with other cells, driving major tissue damage. We initiated studies to investigate the impact of juvenile ischemia on CNS myelination, as this period has distinctly different metabolic demands. We found that despite extensive death of striatal neurons, oligodendrocytes and myelinated axons were remarkably preserved in the juvenile brain, in stark contrast to the adult which exhibits extensive oligodendrocyte and myelin injury (Ahrendsen et al., Glia 64:1972, 2016). Quite intriguingly, in addition to oligodendrocyte resistance to ischemic injury in the actively myelinating juvenile brain, a transgenic mouse line that continues active myelination throughout life also has relatively protected oligodendrocytes. In the proposed studies, we will test the hypotheses that actively myelinating oligodendrocytes have high levels of anti-oxidant pathway molecules that protect them from ischemic damage, and that such damage increases their expression of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which acts in an autocrine m manner to additionally protect myelinating oligodendrocytes. We have three related specific aims that test these hypotheses by investigating 1) the role of the Nrf2 signaling pathway in actively myelinating oligodendrocytes in response to ischemia; 2) the role of IGF-1 in protection of actively myelinating oligodendrocytes; and 3) the role of IGF-1 signaling in conjunction with reactive oxygen species in driving oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation.
This project focuses on the role of anti-oxidant and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) signaling in protection of actively myelinating oligodendrocytes from ischemic damage. A further focus of the project is on the role of IGF-1 along with reactive oxygen species in inducing oligodendrocyte progenitor cell differentiation.