Activated microglia mediate axoglial disruption that contributes to axonal injury in multiple sclerosis

O. W. Howell, J. L. Rundle, A. Garg, M. Komada, P. J. Brophy, R. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The complex manifestations of chronic multiple sclerosis (MS) are due in part to widespread axonal abnormalities that affect lesional and nonlesional areas in the central nervous system. We describe an association between microglial activation and axon/oligodendrocyte pathology at nodal and paranodal domains in normal-appearing white matter (NAWM) of MS cases and in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The extent of paranodal axoglial (neurofascin-155(+)/Caspr1(+)) disruption correlated with local microglial inflammation and axonal injury (expression of nonphosphorylated neurofilaments) in MS NAWM. These changes were independent of demyelinating lesions and did not correlate with the density of infiltrating lymphocytes. Similar axoglial alterations were seen in the subcortical white matter of Parkinson disease cases and in preclinical EAE, at a time point when there is microglial activation before the infiltration of immune cells. Disruption of the axoglial unit in adjuvant-immunized animals was reversible and coincided with the resolution of microglial inflammation; paranodal damage and microglial inflammation persisted in chronic EAE. Axoglial integrity could be preserved by the administration of minocycline, which inhibited microglial activation, in actively immunized animals. These data indicate that, in MS NAWM, permanent disruption to axoglial domains in an environment of microglial inflammation is an early indicator of axonal injury that likely affects nerve conduction and may contribute to physiologic dysfunction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-33
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • secretion


Dive into the research topics of 'Activated microglia mediate axoglial disruption that contributes to axonal injury in multiple sclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this