Cyclical and dose-dependent responses of adult human mature oligodendrocytes to fingolimod

Am J Pathol. 2008 Oct;173(4):1143-52. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2008.080478. Epub 2008 Sep 4.


Fingolimod is a sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) analogue that has been used in clinical trials as a systemic immunomodulatory therapy for multiple sclerosis. Fingolimod readily accesses the central nervous system, raising the issue of its direct effects on neural cells. We assessed the effects of active fingolimod on dissociated cultures of mature, myelin-producing oligodendrocytes (OLGs) derived from adult human brain. Human OLGs express S1P receptor transcripts in relative abundance of S1P5>S1P3>S1P1, with undetectable levels of S1P4. Low doses of fingolimod (100 pmol/L to 1 nmol/L) induced initial membrane elaboration (2 days), subsequent retraction (4 days), and recurrence of extension with prolonged treatment (8 days). Higher doses (10 nmol/L to 1 mumol/L) caused the opposite modulation of membrane dynamics. Retraction was rescued by co-treatment with the S1P3/S1P5 pathway antagonist, suramin, and was associated with RhoA-mediated cytoskeletal signaling. Membrane elaboration was mimicked using the S1P1 agonist SEW2871. Fingolimod rescued human OLGs from serum and glucose deprivation-induced apoptosis, which was reversed with suramin co-treatment and mimicked using an S1P5 agonist. High doses of fingolimod induced an initial down-regulation of S1P5 mRNA levels relative to control (4 hours), subsequent up-regulation (2 days), and recurrent down-regulation (8 days). S1P1 mRNA levels were inversely regulated compared with S1P5. These results indicate that fingolimod modulates maturity- and species-specific OLG membrane dynamics and survival responses that are directly relevant for myelin integrity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glucose / deficiency
  • Humans
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Propylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Lysosphingolipid / genetics
  • Receptors, Lysosphingolipid / metabolism
  • Serum
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sphingosine / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Propylene Glycols
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Lysosphingolipid
  • Fingolimod Hydrochloride
  • Glucose
  • Sphingosine