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Altered human oligodendrocyte heterogeneity in multiple sclerosis
Sarah Jakel, Eneritz Agirre, Ana Mendanha Falcao, David van Bruggen, Ka Wai Lee, Irene Knuesel, Dheeraj Malhotra, Charles ffrench-Constant, Anna Williams and Goncalo Castelo-Branco
Oligodendrocyte (OL) pathology is increasingly implicated in neurodegenerative diseases as OLs both myelinate and provide metabolic support to axons. In Multiple Sclerosis (MS), demyelination in the central nervous system (CNS) thus leads to neurodegeneration, but the severity of MS between patients is very variable. Disability does not correlate well with the extent of demyelination1, suggesting that other factors contribute to this variability. One such factor may be OL heterogeneity. Not all OLs are the same - mouse spinal cord OLs inherently produce longer myelin sheaths than cortical OLs2, and single cell analysis of mouse CNS identified further differences3,4. However, the extent of human OL heterogeneity and its possible contribution to MS pathology remains unknown. Here we performed single nuclei RNA-sequencing (snRNA-seq) from white matter (WM) areas of post mortem human brain both in control (Ctr) and MS patients. We identified sub-clusters of oligodendroglia in Ctr human WM, some similar to mouse, and defined new markers for these cell states. Strikingly, some sub-clusters were under-represented in MS tissue, while others were more prevalent. These differences in mature OL sub-clusters may indicate different functional states of OLs in MS lesions. Since this is similar in normal appearing white matter (NAWM), MS is a more diffuse disease than its focal demyelination suggests. Our findings of an altered oligodendroglial heterogeneity in MS may be important to understanding disease progression and developing therapeutic approaches.