Demyelination in a transgenic mouse: A model for multiple sclerosis
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A transgenic mouse containing 70 copies (ND4) of the transgene encoding DM20, a myelin proteolipid protein, appeared clinically normal up to 3 months of age. By 8-10 months, it showed tremors, unsteady gait, and died shortly thereafter. We concluded that the clinical symptoms correlated with demyelination based on the following criteria: 1) at 10 months of age only 17% of the amount of myelin obtained from normal mice was isolated from the ND4 mice; 2) astrogliosis, a prominent feature of demyelinating disease was minimal at 3 months of age but prominent by 10 months; 3) at the electron microscopic level disrupted myelin was seen at 8 months of age in the ND4 mice and ingested myelin debris was found in astrocytes; 4) lymphocytic infiltration in association with endothelial cells was observed routinely in the ND4 mice; 5) sections through optic nerves showed denuded and thinly myelinated axons in the 8 month old ND4 mice. Although the mechanism by which demyelination takes place is not fully understood, measurements of the amounts of PLP suggest it is down-regulated by the large amount of DM20. Since DM20 is a major proteolipid in the young but a minor one in the adult, the persistence of high levels in the adult results in improperly assembled myelin which is prone to disruption. Therefore demyelination in the ND4 mouse appears to result from the persistence of immature myelin into the adult.
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