Prog Neurobiol 2002 Dec;68(5):361-76
Stangel M, Hartung HP.
Department of Neurology, Medical School Hannover OE 7210, Carl-Neuberg-Strasse 1, 30625, Hannover, Germany
Demyelination is the pathological hallmark of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions.
The concept of remyelination has gained acceptance in recent years, but naturally occurring remyelination is incomplete.
To improve repair processes, a number of strategies have been explored experimentally and clinical trials are being carried out.
In principle, remyelination can be achieved by either promoting endogenous repair mechanisms or by providing an exogenous source of myelinating cells via transplantation.
Both approaches have been successful in animal models of demyelination.
Besides, many studies have elucidated principal mechanisms of oligodendrocyte biology and remyelination in the central nervous system (CNS).
This progress in knowledge also allowed for more specific interventions.
First clinical trials to enhance endogenous remyelination have been performed, unfortunately with disappointingly negative results.
This illustrates that experimental data cannot be easily transferred to human disease, and more detailed knowledge on the regulatory mechanisms of remyelination in MS is required.
Recently, the first MS patient received a transplant of autologous Schwann cells.
Many other cell types are being studied experimentally, including stem cells.
Despite the ethical problems associated with an embryonic cell source, new developments in stem cell biology indicate that adult stem cells or bone marrow-derived cells may substitute for embryonic cells in the future.
In this review, we describe the current views on oligodendrocyte biology, myelination and remyelination, and focus on recent developments leading to reconstructing, remyelinating strategies in MS.