Characterization of oligodendroglial populations in mouse demyelinating disease using flow cytometry: clues for MS pathogenesis

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 23;9(9):e107649. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107649. eCollection 2014.


Characterizing and enumerating cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage (OLCs) is crucial for understanding demyelination and therapeutic benefit in models of demyelinating disease in the central nervous system. Here we describe a novel method for the rapid, unbiased analysis of mouse OLCs using flow cytometry. The assay was optimized to maximize viable yield of OLCs and maintain OLC antigen integrity. Panels of antibodies were assembled for simultaneous analysis of seven antigens on individual cells allowing for characterization of oligodendroglial cells throughout the lineage. We verified the utility of the assay with cultured OLCs and through a time course of developmental myelination. Next we employed the assay to characterize OLC populations in two well-characterized models of demyelination: cuprizone-induced demyelination and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In EAE we observed a dramatic loss of mature oligodendrocytes coincident with a dramatic expansion of oligodendrocyte progenitors cells (OPCs) at the onset of disease suggesting an attempt of the host to repair myelin. This expanded OPC pool was maintained through remission and relapse suggesting an arrest in differentiation in the face of the chronic autoimmune T cell-mediated inflammatory response. These robust, reproducible changes in OLCs through disease provide a rapid quantitative global analysis of myelin-producing cells in the adult mouse brain and important information regarding effects of disease on oligodendroglial proliferation/differentiation which is useful for defining the pathogenesis and therapy of MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Antigens / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cuprizone
  • Demyelinating Diseases / chemically induced
  • Demyelinating Diseases / immunology
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / immunology*
  • Stem Cells / immunology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens
  • Cuprizone