Vulnerability of developing myelin cells in the brain during the neonatal stage

Written on Thursday 22 May 2014

Premature birth is on the increase, and this represents a major problem from both the economic and the public health point of view.

Periventricular leukomalacia or PVL is the predominant form of cerebral injury in premature infants and is the prime cause of cerebral palsy. PVL is characterised by damage to the white matter, with a major loss of myelin cells also known as oligodendrocytes.
The vulnerability of developing oligodendrocytes to neurotoxicity, oxydative stress and inflammation, is a major factor contributing to the onset of the disease.
Recent studies on PVL mouse models revealed that contact zones between neurons and developing oligodendrocytes are rapidly and profoundly damaged in the immature white matter. This loss of contact takes place before cell death in the immature white matter.
Impairment of white matter development in the neonatal period causes functional and behavioral deficits. Preservation of the white matter integrity is likely the key pathway to follow in the treatment and prevention of PVL neurological impairment and disabilities.

Illness: Periventricular leukomalacia
Study type: Pathophysiology
Laboratory: Dr. Wenbin Deng, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Institute for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA, USA.

Source : X.B. Liu, Y. Shen, J.M. Plane, W. Deng. Vulnerability of premyelinating oligodendrocytes to white-matter damage in neonatal brain injury. Neurosci Bull. 2013, 29(2):229-38.

Scientific information provided in collaboration with the INIST-CNRS Institute, Institute for Scientific and Technical Information