Myelin-associated glycoprotein protects neurons from excitotoxicity

Pablo H.H. Lopez, Abdullah S. Ahmad, Niraj R. Mehta, Mayu Toner, Elizabeth A. Rowland, Jiangyang Zhang, Sylvain Doré, Ronald L. Schnaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In addition to supporting rapid nerve conduction, myelination nurtures and stabilizes axons and protects them from acute toxic insults. One myelin molecule that protects and sustains axons is myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG). MAG is expressed on the innermost wrap of myelin, apposed to the axon surface, where it interacts with axonal receptors that reside in lateral membrane domains including gangliosides, the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored Nogo receptors, and β1-integrin. We report here that MAG protection extends beyond the axon to the neurons from which those axons emanate, protecting them from excitotoxicity. Compared to wild type mice, Mag-null mice displayed markedly increased seizure activity in response to intraperitoneal injection of kainic acid, an excitotoxic glutamate receptor agonist. Mag-null mice also had larger lesion volumes in response to intrastriatal injection of the excitotoxin NMDA. Prior injection of a soluble form of MAG partially protected Mag-null mice from NMDA-induced lesions. Hippocampal neurons plated on proteins extracted from wild-type rat or mouse myelin were resistant to kainic acid-induced excitotoxicity, whereas neurons plated on proteins from Mag-null myelin were not. Protection was reversed by anti-MAG antibody and replicated by addition of soluble MAG. MAG-mediated protection from excitotoxicity was dependent on Nogo receptors and β1-integrin. We conclude that MAG engages membrane-domain resident neuronal receptors to protect neurons from excitotoxicity, and that soluble MAG mitigates excitotoxic damage in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-908
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • excitotoxicity
  • kainic acid
  • myelin
  • neuroprotection
  • seizure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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