Abbreviated exposure to cuprizone is sufficient to induce demyelination and oligodendrocyte loss

J Neurosci Res. 2013 Mar;91(3):363-73. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23174. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Cuprizone intoxication is one of several animal models used to study demyelination and remyelination. Early treatment protocols exposed mice to cuprizone for 6 weeks to induce demyelination; however, more recent reports have varied exposure times from 4 to 5 weeks. The goal of this study was to determine the minimal exposure of cuprizone in C57BL/6 mice that would induce a pathology of robust demyelination and gliosis similar to that described for a 5- or 6-week treatment. We found that an abbreviated insult of only 2 weeks of exposure to cuprizone induced significant demyelination 3 weeks later (5-week time point) but was somewhat variable. Three weeks of exposure to cuprizone produced extensive demyelination by week 5, equivalent to that observed with 5 weeks of exposure. The depletion of mature oligodendrocytes, as well as microglia and astrocyte accumulation, showed trends similar to those with 5-week exposure to cuprizone. Once mature oligodendrocytes are perturbed after a 3-week treatment, the progression to demyelination occurs without requiring further exposure. Furthermore, the early removal of cuprizone did not accelerate remyelination, suggesting that other sequences of events must follow before repair can occur. Thus, a short, "hit and run" CNS insult triggers a cascade of events leading to demyelination 2-3 weeks later.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count / methods
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cuprizone / administration & dosage
  • Cuprizone / toxicity*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oligodendroglia / drug effects*
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Time Factors


  • Cuprizone