Journal Of Neuroinflammation
Multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), are inflammatory demyelinating and neurodegenerative diseases of the CNS. Although recent studies suggest the neuroprotective effects of oligodendrocytes in neurodegenerative diseases, it remains unknown whether oligodendrocyte death induced by inflammatory attacks contributes to neurodegeneration in MS and EAE. Upon endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, activation of pancreatic ER kinase (PERK) promotes cell survival through induction of activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) by phosphorylating eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 (eIF2). We have generated a mouse model that allows for temporally controlled activation of PERK specifically in oligodendrocytes. Our previous study has demonstrated that PERK activation specifically in oligodendrocytes attenuates EAE disease severity and ameliorates EAE-induced oligodendrocyte apoptosis, demyelination, and axon degeneration, without altering inflammation. We determined whether oligodendrocyte-specific PERK activation reduced neuron loss in the CNS of EAE mice using the mouse model that allows for temporally controlled activation of PERK specifically in oligodendrocytes. We further generated a mouse model that allows for inactivation of ATF4 specifically in oligodendrocytes, and determined the effects of ATF4 inactivation in oligodendrocytes on mice undergoing EAE. We showed that protection of oligodendrocytes resulting from PERK activation led to attenuation of neuron loss in the CNS gray matter of EAE mice. Surprisingly, we found that ATF4 inactivation specifically in oligodendrocytes did not alter EAE disease severity and had no effect on oligodendrocyte loss, demyelination, axon degeneration, neuron loss, and inflammation in EAE mice. These findings suggest the neuroprotective effects of PERK activation in oligodendrocytes in EAE, and rule out the involvement of ATF4 in oligodendrocytes in the development of EAE. These results imply that the protective effects of PERK activation in oligodendrocytes in MS and EAE are not mediated by ATF4.