Structural and functional alterations of spinal cord axons in adult Long Evans Shaker (LES) dysmyelinated rats
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Abnormal formation or loss of myelin is a distinguishing feature of many neurological disorders and contributes to the pathobiology of neurotrauma. In this study we characterize the functional and molecular changes in CNS white matter in Long Evans Shaker (LES) rats. These rats have a spontaneous mutation of the gene encoding myelin basic protein which results in severe dysmyelination of the central nervous system (CNS), providing a unique model for demyelinating/dysmyelinating disorders. To date, the functional and molecular changes in CNS white matter in this model are not well understood. We have used in vivo somatosensory evoked potential (SSEP), in vitro compound action potential (CAP) recording in isolated dorsal columns, confocal immunohistochemistry, Western blotting and real-time PCR to examine the electrophysiological, molecular and cellular changes in spinal cord white matter in LES rats. We observed that dysmyelination is associated with dispersed labeling of Kv1.1 and Kv1.2 K+ channel subunits, as well as Caspr, a protein normally confined to paranodes, along the LES rat spinal cord axons. Abnormal electrophysiological properties including attenuation of CAP amplitude and conduction velocity, high frequency conduction failure and enhanced sensitivity to K+ channel blockers 4-aminopyridine and dendrotoxin-I were observed in spinal cord axons from LES rats. Our results in LES rats clarify some of the key molecular, cellular and functional consequences of dysmyelination and myelin-axon interactions. Further understanding of these issues in this model could provide critical insights for neurological disorders characterized by demyelination.
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