Oligodendrocytes (OLs) are the myelinating cells of the central nervous system (CNS) during development and throughout adulthood. They result from a complex and well controlled process of activation, proliferation, migration and differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) from the germinative niches of the CNS. In multiple sclerosis (MS), the complex pathological process produces dysfunction and apoptosis of OLs leading to demyelination and neurodegeneration. This review attempts to describe the patterns of demyelination in MS, the steps involved in oligodendrogenesis and myelination in healthy CNS, the different pathways leading to OLs and myelin loss in MS, as well as principles involved in restoration of myelin sheaths. Environmental factors and their impact on OLs and pathological mechanisms of MS are also discussed. Finally, we will present evidence about the potential therapeutic targets in re-myelination processes that can be accessed in order to develop regenerative therapies for MS.
Keywords: Demyelination; Multiple sclerosis; Neurodegeneration; Oligodendrocyte; Oligodendrocyte progenitor cell; Re-myelination.