Region specific oligodendrocyte transcription factor expression in a model of neonatal hypoxic injury

Affeldt, B. M.; Obenaus, A.; Chan, J.; Pardo, A. C.

Int J Dev Neurosci. 2017 May 27; 61:1-11


White matter injury (WMI) of prematurity is associated with a spectrum of neurological disorders ranging from mild cognitive and behavioral deficits to cerebral palsy. Translational studies have implicated impaired oligodendrocyte development after hypoxia as the primary cause of WMI, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. The goal of this study was to identify alterations in the expression of oligodendrocyte precursor cell transcription factors in a mouse model of transient mild global hypoxia. Postnatal day (P) 7 mouse pups were exposed to hypoxia (7.5% O2) for 60minutes. We compared oligodendrocyte differentiation and subsequent myelin formation between hypoxia and sham animals at P9, P14 and P28 by examining the expression of key transcription factor regulators of oligodendrocyte differentiation (Ascl1, Olig1, Olig2, and Nkx2.2), as well as APC, a mature oligodendrocyte marker, in the major white matter regions including the corpus callosum, external capsule and anterior commissure. We also examined the effect on myelin formation by examining two myelin specific protein constituents, myelin associated glycoprotein (MAG) and myelin basic protein (MBP), in white matter tracts and whole brain lysate respectively. We found that transient hypoxia at P7 altered the expression of Ascl1, Olig1 and Nkx2.2, resulting in delayed myelination in the external capsule. In addition, our study showed that oligodendrocyte progenitor cells specified several days prior to a hypoxic event are more susceptible to maturation arrest than those specified shortly prior to hypoxia. Our results suggest that alterations of Ascl1, Olig1 and Nkx2.2 underlie impaired oligodendrocyte differentiation and deficient myelination in WMI. These transcription factors are potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of WMI in preterm infants.

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