Kang SH, Li Y, Fukaya M, Lorenzini I, Cleveland DW, Ostrow LW, Rothstein JD, Bergles DE.
Degeneration and impaired regeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Nat Neurosci. 2013 May;16(5):571-9.
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This is a very well-done study that provides strong evidence that oligodendrocytes, the cells responsible for myelinating the central nervous system, contribute to disease pathogenesis in ALS. This is particularly exciting because it demonstrates a critical and completely unexpected role for oligodendrocytes in providing metabolic support to motor neurons, the cells whose loss drives the clinical disease course in ALS.
The identification of the oligodendrocyte as a key cell in the pathogenesis of ALS raises the possibility that therapeutic strategies that might enhance the survival and/or function of these cells could prove beneficial to ALS patients. Encouragingly, such strategies are currently under development for the CNS demyelinating disorder multiple sclerosis.