News Release

Multiple sclerosis: Oligodendrocytes from stem cells

Recent publication in GLIA (Journal)

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Heinrich-Heine University Duesseldorf

A scientific collaboration between stem cell researchers of the Heinrich-Heine-University led by Prof. Küry (Dept. of Neurology) and by Prof. Adjaye (Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine) with support from British and Chilean colleagues resulted in a new publication on the prospective use of stem cells to generate cell replacement in diseases such as Multiple sclerosis (MS).

MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) of still largely unknown aetiology and is characterized by a loss of a particular glia cell type - the oligodendrocytes. These cells are highly specialized and provide electrical insulation to neuronal connections, thereby speeding up signal propagation in our brain and spinal cord.

If these oligodendrocytes are damaged or destroyed, the axons - the signalling projection of our neurons - become uncovered, vulnerable and functionally impaired. It is therefore of considerable interest to repair such "lesions" and to support the diseased CNS in generating new oligodendrocytes.

The good news are that within our brain and spinal cord immature cell types exist which eventually can be activated, redistributed and which bear the potential to become oligodendrocytes, among them the adult neural stem cells. The bad news are that this repair process is far from being efficient and that it in many cases fails to provide regeneration and functional recovery to patients with MS. Such limitations unfortunately also account for neural stem cells.

Janusz Jadasz - the first author of the study published in the renowned journal GLIA - revealed together with his colleagues that the interaction and communication of two different stem cell types, mesenchymal stem cells originating from bone, the other being the adult neural stem cells, can strongly promote oligodendrogenesis.

The team looked at different sub processes, investigated a number of different molecular markers and was mainly interested in demonstrating conservation across species - man and rat. Importantly they could clearly demonstrate that the identified instructive mechanism is valid for the generation of human oligodendrocytes which makes their observations interesting regarding clinical translation.


This study received multiple financial support such as from the German Research Foundation, the Christiane and Claudia Hempel Foundation for clinical stem cell research, iBrain graduate school, DMSG Ortsvereinigung Duesseldorf und Umgebung e.V., the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the medical faculty of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf and from FONDECYT-CONICYT (Chile).


Jadasz JJ, Tepe L, Beyer F, Samper Agrelo I, Akkermann R, Spitzhorn LS, Silva ME, Oreffo ROC, Hartung HP, Prigione A, Rivera FJ, Adjaye J, Küry P (2017) Human mesenchymal factors induce rat hippocampal- and human neural stem cell dependent oligodendrogenesis. Glia. 2017 Sep 22. doi: 10.1002/glia.23233. [Epub ahead of print]

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