Reactive oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (re-)myelinate the regenerating zebrafish spinal cord

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Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in loss of neurons, oligodendrocytes and myelin sheaths, all of which are not efficiently restored. The scarcity of oligodendrocytes in the lesion site impairs re-myelination of spared fibres, which leaves axons denuded, impedes signal transduction and contributes to permanent functional deficits. In contrast to mammals, zebrafish can functionally regenerate the spinal cord. Yet, little is known about oligodendroglial lineage biology and re-myelination capacity after SCI in a regeneration-permissive context. Here, we report that, in adult zebrafish, SCI results in axonal, oligodendrocyte and myelin sheath loss. We find that OPCs, the oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, survive the injury, enter a reactive state, proliferate and differentiate into oligodendrocytes. Concomitantly, the oligodendrocyte population is re-established to pre-injury levels within 2 weeks. Transcriptional profiling revealed that reactive OPCs upregulate the expression of several myelination-related genes. Interestingly, global reduction of axonal tracts and partial re-myelination, relative to pre-injury levels, persist at later stages of regeneration, yet are sufficient for functional recovery. Taken together, these findings imply that, in the zebrafish spinal cord, OPCs replace lost oligodendrocytes and, thus, re-establish myelination during regeneration.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev193946
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020

External IDs

Scopus 85098673900
ORCID /0000-0002-2668-8371/work/83038457