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Developmental myelination is modified by microglial pruning

By Alexandria N. Hughes, Bruce Appel

Posted 03 Jun 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/659482

During development, oligodendrocytes contact and wrap neuronal axons with myelin. Similar to neurons and synapses, excess myelin sheaths are produced and selectively eliminated. However, unlike these other structures, almost nothing is known about myelin sheath elimination. Microglia, the resident immune cells of the CNS, refine the developing CNS by engulfing surplus neurons and synapses. To determine if microglia also prune myelin sheaths, we used zebrafish to visualize and manipulate interactions between microglia, oligodendrocytes, and neurons during development. We found that microglia closely associate with oligodendrocytes and specifically phagocytose myelin sheaths. Silencing neuronal activity with botulinum toxin (BoNT/B) increased myelin engulfment by microglia. Furthermore, oligodendrocytes maintained excessive myelin sheaths following microglial ablation. Our work reveals a neuronal activity-regulated role for microglia in regulating myelination by oligodendrocytes.

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