Oligodendrocyte development and plasticity

Dwight E. Bergles, William D. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) originate in the ventricular zones (VZs) of the brain and spinal cord and migrate throughout the developing central nervous system (CNS) before differentiating intomyelinating oligodendrocytes (OLs). It is not knownwhether OPCs or OLs from different parts of the VZ are functionally distinct. OPCs persist in the postnatal CNS, where they continue to divide and generate myelinating OLs at a decreasing rate throughout adult life in rodents. Adult OPCs respond to injury or disease by accelerating their cell cycle and increasing production of OLs to replace lost myelin. They also form synapses with unmyelinated axons and respond to electrical activity in those axons by generating more OLs and myelin locally. This experience-dependent “adaptive” myelination is important in some forms of plasticity and learning, for example, motor learning.We review the control of OL lineage development, including OL population dynamics and adaptive myelination in the adult CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbera020453
JournalCold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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