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Title: Role of activin receptors in driving central nervous system regeneration of myelin
Author: Dillenburg Scur, Alessandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 1448
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2019
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Myelin damage in central nervous system white matter disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS) leads to axonal dysfunction/degeneration and clinical disability. Regeneration of myelin (termed remyelination) can occur and requires oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) to differentiate into mature oligodendrocytes, which are then able to make contact with axons and ensheath them. However, this process fails in progressive MS. The lack of approved therapies aimed at promoting remyelination highlight the need to identify mechanisms driving this regenerative process to develop novel therapeutic strategies. Previous work in the lab identified the TGF-β superfamily member activin-A as being increased during remyelination in vivo and sufficient in stimulating activin receptor-driven OPC differentiation into mature oligodendrocytes in vitro. Here, these studies were followed up by undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the role of activin receptors and their ligands during remyelination. Using an ex vivo brain explant model of demyelination, the stimulation of activin receptors using activin-A was sufficient to enhance remyelination. Blocking activin receptors using an endogenous inhibitor (Inhibin) hindered remyelination, demonstrating the requirement of activin receptor signalling for this process. Surprisingly, blocking the binding of endogenous activin-A to activin receptors using follistatin did not impact remyelination, suggesting that other activin receptor ligands are involved in driving remyelination. As activin receptors may bind other ligands in the TGF-β superfamily, the expression and function of alternative ligands was investigated, and each was found to be important for remyelination (albeit with distinct timing/ effects). Both activin receptors and their ligands were expressed on microglia/macrophages in mouse and human disease tissue. Finally, analysis of activin receptor expression on oligodendrocytes in human tissue revealed potential functional differences between receptor subtypes. Together, these results demonstrate previously undefined roles of a subset of TGF-β superfamily members in regulating remyelination, and have implications for the development of novel approaches to enhancing remyelination in disease.
Supervisor: Miron, Veronique ; Williams, Anna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis ; remyelination ; activin-A ; oligodendrocytes ; microglia ; macrophages