Some myelin-making cells missing in multiple sclerosis
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The brains of people with multiple sclerosis have different kinds of oligodendrocyte cells than people without the disease, even in brain regions not thought affected by the chronic inflammatory disorder.
The study — one of the first to use single-cell RNA sequencing to interrogate a neurological disease — could help explain how multiple sclerosis progresses and how to improve treatment strategies.
Oligodendrocytes help wrap nerve fibres in the protective myelin sheath that is lost in multiple sclerosis.
Starting with single oligodendrocytes from the white matter of healthy brains, a research team that included scientists from Roche identified many subpopulations of these myelin-making cells. In brains from multiple sclerosis-affected patients, however, certain subpopulations were missing or altered, both within disease lesions and in normal-appearing tissue.
The findings could help explain why the restoration of damaged myelin is impaired in multiple sclerosis.
- Nature 566, 543–547 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0903-2