Visual abnormalities associated with enhanced optic nerve myelination

Department of Ophthalmic Research, Cole Eye Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.
Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.84). 02/2011; 1374:36-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.12.043
Source: PubMed


Expression of the constitutively active serine/threonine kinase Akt in oligodendrocytes results in enhanced myelination in the CNS. Here, we have examined the effects of this Akt overexpression on optic nerve structure and on optic nerve function, assessed using the visual evoked potential (VEP). Transgenic mice have been generated with the Plp promoter driving expression of a modified form of Akt, in which aspartic acids are substituted for Thr308 and Ser473. These Plp-Akt-DD (Akt-DD) mice, and littermate controls, were studied at different ages. Optic nerves were examined anatomically at 2 and 6 months of age. At 2 months of age, optic nerves were substantially thicker in Akt-DD mice, reflecting an increase in myelination of optic nerve axons. By electron microscopy, myelin thickness was increased in Akt-DD optic nerve, with extended paranodal domains having excess paranodal loops, and the density of nodes of Ranvier was reduced, relative to control mice. We recorded VEPs in response to strobe flash ganzfeld stimuli presented after overnight dark- and light-adapted conditions at ages ranging from 1 to 10 months. It was possible to record a clear VEP from Akt-DD mice at all ages examined. At 1 month of age, VEP implicit times were somewhat shorter in Akt-DD transgenic mice than in control animals. Beyond 6months of age, VEP latencies were consistently delayed in Akt-DD transgenic mice. These abnormalities did not reflect an alteration in retinal function as there were no significant differences between ERGs obtained from control or Akt-DD transgenic mice. In young mice, the somewhat faster responses may reflect improved transmission due to increased myelination of optic nerve axons. In older mice, where the Akt-DD optic nerve is markedly thicker than control, it is remarkable that optic nerves continue to function.

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    • "The promyelinating effects of the Akt/GSK3 signaling pathway on brain can be substantial. When Akt is driven to be constitutively active, hypermyelination without increasing oligodendrocyte numbers is specifically observed in CNS but not in PNS (Flores et al., 2008; Yu et al., 2011). Conversely, over-expression of GSK3β reduces myelination (Azim and Butt, 2011), brain size, and cortical thickness without a decline in neuron number and thus results in increased neuronal density (Spittaels et al., 2002). "
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