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Autoimmune neuroinflammation triggers mitochondrial oxidation in oligodendrocytes

Steudler, J;Ecott, T;Ivan, DC;Bouillet, E;Walthert, S;Berve, K;Dick, TP;Engelhardt, B;Locatelli, G;

Oligodendrocytes (ODCs) are myelinating cells of the central nervous system (CNS) supporting neuronal survival. Oxidants and mitochondrial dysfunction have been suggested as the main causes of ODC damage during neuroinflammation as observed in multiple sclerosis (MS). Nonetheless, the dynamics of this process remain unclear, thus hindering the design of neuroprotective therapeutic strategies. To decipher the spatio-temporal pattern of oxidative damage and dysfunction of ODC mitochondria in vivo, we created a novel mouse model in which ODCs selectively express the ratiometric H2 O2 biosensor mito-roGFP2-Orp1 allowing for quantification of redox changes in their mitochondria. Using 2-photon imaging of the exposed spinal cord, we observed significant mitochondrial oxidation in ODCs upon induction of the MS model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). This redox change became already apparent during the preclinical phase of EAE prior to CNS infiltration of inflammatory cells. Upon clinical EAE development, mitochondria oxidation remained detectable and was associated with a significant impairment in organelle density and morphology. These alterations correlated with the proximity of ODCs to inflammatory lesions containing activated microglia/macrophages. During the chronic progression of EAE, ODC mitochondria maintained an altered morphology, but their oxidant levels decreased to levels observed in healthy mice. Taken together, our study implicates oxidative stress in ODC mitochondria as a novel pre-clinical sign of MS-like inflammation and demonstrates that evolving redox and morphological changes in mitochondria accompany ODC dysfunction during neuroinflammation.