Researchers discovered that following exposure to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and the activation of their immune function in mice models were reduced, as published in Glia.

MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system, causing neuroinflammation, demyelination, gliosis, and axonal damage. OPCs play a major role in facilitating the regeneration of myelin following disease or injury. Remyelination failure is a characteristic feature of progressive MS, while remyelination successfully commonly occurs in relapsing MS.

Recent studies demonstrate that OPCs might also have significant immunological properties, possibly playing a role in the inflammatory pathogenesis of MS. “Whether these immune properties perpetuate an inflammatory response leading to direct damage in MS, or contribute to a regenerative process is still unclear,” Zveik et al wrote.

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The researchers hypothesized that CSF from patients with relapsing MS and CSF from patients with progressive MS would differ in their effects on OPC differentiation and immunomodulatory properties. They collected CSF samples via lumbar puncture from patients who have been diagnosed with MS between 2000 to 2011 according to the McDonald criteria.

The research team recruited 17 patients with relapsing MS, 19 patients with progressive MS, and 18 healthy controls. They then compared the effect of CSF from the different groups of individuals on primary OPC differentiation and activation of immune function in mice models.

They discovered that CSF from patients with progressive MS reduced the OPCs’ ability to differentiate and to activate their immune function.

“Our data enhanced the current understanding of the roles of OPCs, highlighting their specific role in inflammation in different clinical manifestations of MS,” Zveik and colleagues concluded. “These findings may provide new avenues for therapeutic intervention as well as furnishing a better understanding of disease pathogenesis.”


Zveik O, Fainstein N, Rechtman A, et al. Cerebrospinal fluid of progressive multiple sclerosis patients reduces differentiation and immune functions of oligodendrocyte progenitor cellsGlia. 2022;1-19. doi:10.1002/glia.24165