Oligodendrocytes may not play the same role in the development of multiple sclerosis as previously thought. This is according to a study in the journal Neuron, that was published by experts at Karolinska Institutet.
Multiple sclerosis is thought to be caused by the targeted attack of oligodendrocytes and myelin by immune cells. The attacks by immune cells result in nerve damage that ultimately leads to symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Past research has uncovered specific regions in the human genome that involve mutations that lead to higher risks of developing the condition.
As part of the new study, the team at Karolinska demonstrated in human and mouse brain samples how “oligodendrocytes and their progenitors have an open configuration of the genome near immune genes and at multiple sclerosis-risk associated regions.”
The activation of nearby genes in oligodendrocytes and their progenitors may be linked to multiple sclerosis risk mutations. The risk of developing multiple sclerosis may occur as a result of the misfunction of oligodendrocytes and their precursor cells.
“These findings indicate that these cells can also be targeted for therapeutical approaches for multiple sclerosis, to prevent misfunction that might be caused by these mutations,” the Karolinska team concluded in their report.