Macrophages in CNS Remyelination: Friend or Foe?*

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Abstract

Hematogenous macrophages and resident brain microglia are agents of demyelination in multiple sclerosis (MS) and paradoxically may also participate in remyelination. In vitro studies have shown that macrophage enrichment of aggregate brain cultures promotes myelination per se and enhances the capacity to remyelinate following a demyelinating episode. It has been hypothesized that remyelination in MS is implemented by surviving dedifferentiated oligodendrocytes or by newly recruited progenitors that migrate, proliferate and synthesize myelin in response to signalling molecules in the local environment. We postulate that macrophage-derived cytokines or growth factors may directly or indirectly promote oligodendroglial proliferation and differentiation, contributing to myelin repair in inflammatory demyelinating disease.

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