Retinoid X receptor gamma signaling accelerates CNS remyelination
The molecular basis of CNS myelin regeneration (remyelination) is poorly understood. We generated a comprehensive transcriptional profile of the separate stages of spontaneous remyelination that follow focal demyelination in the rat CNS and found that transcripts that encode the retinoid acid receptor RXR-g were differentially expressed during remyelination. Cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage expressed RXR-g in rat tissues that were undergoing remyelination and in active and remyelinated multiple sclerosis lesions. Knockdown of RXR-g by RNA interference or RXR-specific antagonists severely inhibited oligodendrocyte differentiation in culture. In mice that lacked RXR-g, adult oligodendrocyte precursor cells efficiently repopulated lesions after demyelination, but showed delayed differentiation into mature oligodendrocytes. Administration of the RXR agonist 9-cis-retinoic acid to demyelinated cerebellar slice cultures and to aged rats after demyelination caused an increase in remyelinated axons. Our results indicate that RXR-g is a positive regulator of endogenous oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation and remyelination and might be a pharmacological target for regenerative therapy in the CNS.