Neurotransmitter receptors in the life and death of oligodendrocytes

Neuroscience. 2007 Apr 14;145(4):1426-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2006.08.070. Epub 2006 Oct 16.


Oligodendrocytes are crucial to the function of the mammalian brain: they increase the action potential conduction speed for a given axon diameter and thus facilitate the rapid flow of information between different brain areas. The proliferation and differentiation of developing oligodendrocytes, and their myelination of axons, are partly controlled by neurotransmitters. In addition, in models of conditions like stroke, periventricular leukomalacia leading to cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis, oligodendrocytes are damaged by glutamate and, contrary to dogma, it has recently been discovered that this damage is mediated in part by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors. Mutations in oligodendrocyte neurotransmitter receptors or their interacting proteins may cause defects in CNS function. Here we review the roles of neurotransmitter receptors in the normal function, and malfunction in pathological conditions, of oligodendrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / genetics
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Humans
  • Myelin Sheath / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / genetics
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / metabolism*


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter