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Study: Myelin mouse model may not apply to humans


A new study suggests that mouse modeling of myelin production may not predict outcomes in humans. Very low turnover of oligodendrocytes was found to have little influence in humans.

Karolinska Institutet researchers studied the brains of 55 deceased people, from infancy to 92, and discovered that oligodendrocytes mature rapidly from birth to the age of five. Once they mature, only one out of 300 is replaced per year. Oligodendrocytes serve as myelin building blocks in the central nervous system. Until recently, the research showed that in mice, oligodendrocytes are replaced when they need more myelin. In fact, what they found was that in humans, the oligodendrocyte population is stable while myelin is exchanged at a high rate.

“We were surprised by this discovery. In humans, the existing oligodendrocytes modulate their myelin production, instead of replacing the cells as in mice. It is probably what enables us to adapt and learn faster. Production of myelin is vital in several neurological diseases such as MS. We now have new basic knowledge to build upon,” said Jonas Frisén, Professor of Stem Cell Research at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet.

The study was published in the journal Cell.

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