MS in Focus
Winner: From stars to stripes: the path to the regeneration of myelin
Alessandra Dillenburg, University of Edinburgh
Remyelination, or regeneration of myelin, is a process that fails in progressive MS. In our lab, we use mouse brain slices to look at how remyelination works. We can use this model, which remyelinates efficiently after demyelination, to test interesting targets to improve this regeneration.
In order from left to right: a demyelinated slice, a slice starting to remyelinate, and a completely remyelinated slice. Neurons are shown in green and myelin is shown in red – overlapping areas are shown in orange.
Runner up: Fire walk with me
Andrea Domenico Rivera, University of Portsmouth
This image of the mouse brain shows a special type of stem cells called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) (White). These cells generate another type of brain cell called oligodendrocyte throughout life. Oligodendrocytes produce myelin (Red) which is a substance that promotes efficient transmission of a nerve cell impulse by insulating axons: the part of neurons that transmit the information.
Myelin is the primary target in MS and when damaged, the nerve signal cannot get through. That is what causes the symptoms in MS. OPCs are then called to the MS lesion where they mature in myelin-producing cells in order to repair the damage. Recently, we have identified a chemical stimulus called GSK3 that can order these cells to generate new oligodendrocytes. The red and white colours used in this picture show how close OPCs contact myelinated axons and give a fire like appearance. Cell nuclei are shown in blue.
People's choice: The spider and its web
Alisa Molotova, University of Cambridge
Neurons transmit information along their fibres, which are coated by myelin. Myelin is similar to insulation in electrical systems. This fatty substance is made, protected and maintained by a cell called an oligodendrocyte, which wraps around multiple neuronal axons like a spider to carry out its function.