Thyroid hormone transporter Mct8/Oatp1c1 deficiency compromises proper oligodendrocyte maturation in the mouse CNS

Proper CNS myelination depends on the timed availability of thyroid hormone (TH) that induces differentiation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) to mature, myelinating oligodendrocytes. Abnormal myelination is frequently observed in Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome caused by inactivating mutations in the TH transporter MCT8. Likewise, persistent hypomyelination is a key CNS feature of the Mct8/Oatp1c1 double knockout (Dko) mouse model, a well-established mouse model for human MCT8 deficiency that exhibits diminished TH transport across brain barriers and thus a TH deficient CNS. Here, we explored whether decreased myelin content is caused by an impairment in oligodendrocyte maturation. To that end, we studied OPC and oligodendrocyte populations in Dko mice versus wild-type and single TH transporter knockout animals at different developmental time points (at postnatal days P12, P30, and P120) using multi-marker immunostaining and confocal microscopy. Only in Dko mice we observed a reduction in cells expressing the oligodendroglia marker Olig2, encompassing all stages between OPCs and mature oligodendrocytes. Moreover, Dko mice exhibited at all analysed time points an increased portion of OPCs and a reduced number of mature oligodendrocytes both in white and grey matter regions indicating a differentiation blockage in the absence of Mct8/Oatp1c1. We also assessed cortical oligodendrocyte structural parameters by visualizing and counting the number of mature myelin sheaths formed per oligodendrocyte. Again, only Dko mice displayed a reduced number of myelin sheaths that in turn exhibited an increase in length indicating a compensatory response to the reduced number of mature oligodendrocytes. Altogether, our studies underscore an oligodendrocyte differentiation impairment and altered oligodendrocyte structural parameters in the global absence of Mct8 and Oatp1c1. Both mechanisms most likely do not only cause the abnormal myelination state but also contribute to compromised neuronal functionality in Mct8/Oatp1c1 deficient animals.


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