Epigenetic priming of immune/inflammatory pathways activation and abnormal activity of cell cycle pathway in a perinatal model of white matter injury

Cell Death Dis. 2022 Dec 13;13(12):1038. doi: 10.1038/s41419-022-05483-4.


Prenatal inflammatory insults accompany prematurity and provoke diffuse white matter injury (DWMI), which is associated with increased risk of neurodevelopmental pathologies, including autism spectrum disorders. DWMI results from maturation arrest of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), a process that is poorly understood. Here, by using a validated mouse model of OPC maturation blockade, we provide the genome-wide ID card of the effects of neuroinflammation on OPCs that reveals the architecture of global cell fate issues underlining their maturation blockade. First, we find that, in OPCs, neuroinflammation takes advantage of a primed epigenomic landscape and induces abnormal overexpression of genes of the immune/inflammatory pathways: these genes strikingly exhibit accessible chromatin conformation in uninflamed OPCs, which correlates with their developmental, stage-dependent expression, along their normal maturation trajectory, as well as their abnormal upregulation upon neuroinflammation. Consistently, we observe the positioning on DNA of key transcription factors of the immune/inflammatory pathways (IRFs, NFkB), in both unstressed and inflamed OPCs. Second, we show that, in addition to the general perturbation of the myelination program, neuroinflammation counteracts the physiological downregulation of the cell cycle pathway in maturing OPCs. Neuroinflammation therefore perturbs cell identity in maturing OPCs, in a global manner. Moreover, based on our unraveling of the activity of genes of the immune/inflammatory pathways in prenatal uninflamed OPCs, the mere suppression of these proinflammatory mediators, as currently proposed in the field, may not be considered as a valid neurotherapeutic strategy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Epigenomics
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neuroinflammatory Diseases
  • Oligodendroglia* / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • White Matter* / pathology