Plasticity in oligodendrocyte lineage progression: An OPC puzzle on our nerves
Adaptive myelination relates to the selective enhancement of myelination along active circuits. The specifics of how this is achieved is unclear. Neural activity exerts multifaced roles upon potentiating the myelinating process, ranging from the proliferation of OPCs, survival of pre‐myelinating oligodendrocytes, through to the internodal formation of newly generated oligodendrocytes. This review will collate literature regarding different aspects of oligodendrocyte and myelin development in an innate context, before discussing how these parameters are proposed to change under adaptive conditions.
Myelin deposition in the central nervous system has been shown to be responsive to experience, with sensory enrichment increasing myelination and sensory or social deprivation decreasing myelination. This process is referred to as “adaptive myelination” or “myelin plasticity” and signifies an essential component of new learning. However, whether these experience‐driven adaptations are driven by (a) underlying changes in the generation of myelinating cells, (b) altered interactions between myelin sheath and axon, or (c) a combination of the above remains unclear. It has been suggested that myelination largely follows an “innate” and automatic programme, allowing for a predictable pattern of central nervous system myelin deposition over time. Adaptive myelination is thought to account for more nuanced alterations that do not dramatically shift this pattern, but ultimately drive functional responses. This makes the study of myelin plasticity particularly difficult, as it necessitates being able to clearly and specifically draw boundaries between the innate and adaptive programme. Thus, the field requires a holistic understanding of the remit of innate myelin development, prior to investigation of adaptive myelination. This review will collate literature regarding different aspects of oligodendrocyte and myelin development (namely, oligodendrocyte proliferation, differentiation, death and myelin sheath formation) in an innate context, before discussing how these parameters are proposed to change under adaptive conditions. It is the hope that this review will highlight the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach towards studying both innate and adaptive forms of myelination.