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Multiple Modes of Communication between Neurons and Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells

Publication year 2015
Published in The Neuroscientist
Authors P.P. Maldonado, Maria Cecilia Angulo

The surprising discovery of bona fide synapses between neurons and oligodendrocytes precursor cells (OPCs) 15 years ago placed these progenitors as real partners of neurons in the CNS. The role of these synapses has not been established yet, but a main hypothesis is that neuron-OPC synaptic activity is a signaling pathway controlling OPC proliferation/differentiation, influencing the myelination process. However, new evidences describing non-synaptic mechanisms of communication between neurons and OPCs have revealed that neuron-OPC interactions are more complex than expected. The activation of extrasynaptic receptors by ambient neurotransmitter or local spillover and the ability of OPCs to sense neuronal activity through a potassium channel suggest that distinct modes of communication mediate different functions of OPCs in the CNS. This review discusses different mechanisms used by OPCs to interact with neurons and their potential roles during postnatal development and in brain disorders.

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