NG2-glia in the adult brain are known to proliferate and differentiate into mature and myelinating oligodendrocytes throughout lifetime. However, the role of these newly generated oligodendrocytes in the adult brain still remains little understood. Here we took advantage of the Sox10-iCreERT2 x CAG-eGFP x Esco2fl/fl mouse line in which we can specifically ablate proliferating NG2-glia in adult animals. Surprisingly, we observed that the generation of new oligodendrocytes in the adult brain was severely affected, although the number of NG2-glia remained stable due to the enhanced proliferation of non-recombined cells. This lack of oligodendrogenesis led to the elongation of the nodes of Ranvier as well as the associated paranodes, which could be locally rescued by myelinating oligodendrocytes differentiated from transplanted NG2-glia deriving from wildtype mice. Repetitive measurements of conduction velocity in the corpus callosum of awake animals revealed a progressive deceleration specifically in the mice lacking adult oligodendrogenesis that resulted in progressive motor deficits. In summary, here we demonstrated for the first time that axon function is not only controlled by the reliable organization of myelin, but also requires a dynamic and continuous generation of new oligodendrocytes in the adult brain. GLIA 2016;64:2201-2218.
Keywords: NG2-glia; adult brain; differentiation; oligodendrogenesis; proliferation.
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.