J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2003 Sep;62(9):908-16
Chari DM, Crang AJ, Blakemore WF.
Neurology Unit, Department of Clinical Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Rates of remyelination decline with age and this has been attributed to slower recruitment of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) into areas of demyelination and slower differentiation of OPCs into remyelinating oligodendrocytes.
When considering causes for reduced recruitment rates, intrinsic causes (alterations in biological properties of OPCs) need to be separated from extrinsic causes (age-related differences in the lesion environment).
Using 40 Gy of X-irradiation to deplete tissue of its endogenous OPC-population, we examined the effects of age on the rate at which adult rat OPCs colonize OPC-depleted tissue.
We found a significant reduction in the rate of colonization between 2 and 10 months of age (0.6 mm/week versus 0.38 mm/week).
To determine if this represented an intrinsic property of OPCs or was due to changes in the environment that the cells were recolonizing, OPCs from 10-month-old animals were transplanted into 2-month-old hosts and OPCs from 2-month-old animals were transplanted into 10-month-old hosts.
These experiments showed that the transplanted OPCs retained their age-related rate of colonization, indicating that the decline in colonizing rates of OPCs with age reflects an intrinsic property of OPCs.
This age-related decline in the ability of OPCs to repopulate OPC-depleted tissue has implications for understanding remyelination failure in multiple sclerosis (MS) and developing therapies for remyelination failure.