Author(s): Davina Kruczek1, Tim Clarner2, Cordian Beyer2, Markus Kipp2,3, and JÃ¶rg Mey1,4,5
Experiments with animal models of multiple sclerosis have shown that the expression of retinoid X receptors (RXR) increases during demyelination and that RXR is involved in the regulation of remyelination. After ligand binding RXRs form heterodimeric transcription factors with other nuclear receptor (NR) families including the retinoic acid receptors (RAR) and liver X receptors (LXR). We tested whether activation of these nuclear receptor complexes reduces pathological demyelination using the cuprizone mouse model. Cuprizone, which causes oligodendrocyte degeneration, was given for three weeks as a food additive. For the activation of nuclear receptors mice were treated with daily i.p. injections of agonists for RXR (9-cis RA), RAR (all-trans RA), and LXR (T0901317). Myelin status, oligodendrocyte survival, astrogliosis, microglial activation, and axon density were monitored with immunohistochemistry and evaluated quantitatively. Three weeks of cuprizone feeding caused severe demyelination and significantly raised the number of Iba1 immunoreactive microglia cells in the caudal corpus callosum. This increase of microglia activity was reduced with 9-cis RA treatment but was enhanced with all-trans RA and was not affected by T0901317. Nuclear receptor activation did not influence the degree of demyelination, oligodendrocyte survival, astrogliosis, or axonal preservation. We conclude that RXR activation, although affecting Iba1-positive microglia, does not protect oligodendrocytes from cuprizone toxicity and does not induce compensatory mechanisms in the initial phase of demyelination.