Opinion

Axo-myelinic neurotransmission: a novel mode of cell signalling in the central nervous system

  • Nature Reviews Neuroscience 19, 4958 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/nrn.2017.128
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Abstract

It is widely recognized that myelination of axons greatly enhances the speed of signal transmission. An exciting new finding is the dynamic communication between axons and their myelin-forming oligodendrocytes, including activity-dependent signalling from axon to myelin. The oligodendrocyte–myelin complex may in turn respond by providing metabolic support or alter subtle myelin properties to modulate action potential propagation. In this Opinion, we discuss what is known regarding the molecular physiology of this novel, synapse-like communication and speculate on potential roles in disease states including multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease. An emerging appreciation of the contribution of white-matter perturbations to neurological dysfunction identifies the axo-myelinic synapse as a potential novel therapeutic target.

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Acknowledgements

Work in the authors' laboratories was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Centre for Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain) and an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (to K.A.N.) and by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates — Health Solutions, Alberta Prion Research Institute, Canada Research Chairs and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (to P.K.S.).

Author information

Author notes

    • I. Micu
    • , J. R. Plemel
    •  & A. V. Caprariello

    I.M., J.R.P. and A.V.C. contributed equally to the manuscript.

Affiliations

  1. University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada.

    • I. Micu
    • , J. R. Plemel
    • , A. V. Caprariello
    •  & P. K. Stys
  2. Department of Neurogenetics, Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.

    • K.-A. Nave

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Contributions

P. K. Stys: researching data for article, substantial contribution to discussion of content, writing, review/editing of manuscript before submission. I. Micu: researching data for article, substantial contribution to discussion of content, writing, review/editing of manuscript before submission. J. R. Plemel: researching data for article, substantial contribution to discussion of content, writing, review/editing of manuscript before submission. A. V. Caprariello: researching data for article, substantial contribution to discussion of content, writing, review/editing of manuscript before submission. K.-A. Nave: substantial contribution to discussion of content, writing, review/editing of manuscript before submission.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. K. Stys.