Brain. 2003 Apr 22
Craner MJ, Lo AC, Black JA, Waxman SG.
Myelinated fibres are characterized by the aggregation of Nav1.6 sodium channels within the axon membrane at nodes of Ranvier, where their presence supports saltatory conduction.
In this study, we used immunocytochemical methods to study the organization of sodium channels along axons in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of multiple sclerosis.
We studied axons within the optic nerve, a CNS tract commonly affected in multiple sclerosis, and their cell bodies of origin (retinal ganglion cells), using subtype-specific antibodies generated against sodium channel subtypes Nav1.1, Nav1.2, Nav1.3 and Nav1.6, which previously have been shown to be expressed by retinal ganglion cells.
We demonstrate a significant switch from Nav1.6 to Nav1.2 expression in the optic nerve in EAE; there was a reduction in frequency of Nav1.6-positive nodes (84.5% Nav1.6-immunopositive nodes in control versus 32.9% in EAE) and increased frequency of Nav1.2-positive nodes (11.8% Nav1.2 immunopositive nodes in control versus 74.9% in EAE).
Moreover, we observed a significant increase in the number of linear (presumably demyelinated) axonal profiles demonstrating extended diffuse immunostaining for Nav1.2 in EAE versus control optic nerves.
These changes within the optic nerve are paralleled by decreased levels of Nav1.6 and increased Nav1.2 protein, together with increased levels of Nav1.2 mRNA, within retinal ganglion cells in EAE.
Our findings of a loss of Nav1.6 and increased expression of Nav1.2 suggest that electrogenesis in EAE may revert to a stage similar to that observed in immature retinal ganglion cells in which Nav1.2 channels support conduction of action potentials along axons.