Objective: To investigate the impact of single or repeated episodes of reversible demyelination on long-term locomotor performance and neuroaxonal integrity, and to analyze the myelin proteome after remyelination and during aging.
Methods: Long-term locomotor performance of previously cuprizone-treated animals was monitored using the motor skill sequence (MOSS). Quantitative analysis of myelin proteome and histopathological analysis of neuronal/axonal integrity was performed after successful remyelination. Histopathological findings observed in experimental chronic remyelinated lesions were verified in chronic remyelinated lesions from multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
Results: Following cessation of cuprizone treatment, animals showed an initial recovery of locomotor performance. However, long after remyelination was completed (approximately 6 months after the last demyelinating episode), locomotor performance again declined in remyelinated animals as compared to age-matched controls. This functional decline was accompanied by brain atrophy and callosal axonal loss. Furthermore, the number of acutely damaged amyloid precursor protein-positive (APP+) axons was still significantly elevated in long-term remyelinated animals as compared to age-matched controls. Confocal analysis revealed that a substantial proportion of these APP+ spheroids were ensheathed by myelin, a finding that was confirmed in the chronic remyelinated lesions of MS patients. Moreover, quantitative analysis of myelin proteome revealed that remyelinated myelin displays alterations in composition that are in some aspects similar to the myelin of older animals.
Interpretation: We propose that even after completed remyelination, axonal degeneration continues to progress at a low level, accumulating over time, and that once a threshold is passed axonal degeneration can become functionally apparent in the long-term. The presented model thus mimics some of the aspects of axonal degeneration in chronic progressive MS.
Copyright © 2011 American Neurological Association.