Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) are responsible for generating oligodendrocytes, the myelinating cells of the CNS. Life-long myelination is promoted by neuronal activity and is essential for neural network plasticity and learning. OPCs are known to contact synapses and it is proposed that neuronal synaptic activity in turn regulates their behavior. To examine this in the adult, we performed unilateral injection of the synaptic blocker botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) into the hippocampus of adult mice. We confirm BoNT/A cleaves SNAP-25 in the CA1 are of the hippocampus, which has been proven to block neurotransmission. Notably, BoNT/A significantly decreased OPC density and caused their shrinkage, as determined by immunolabeling for the OPC marker NG2. Furthermore, BoNT/A resulted in an overall decrease in the number of OPC processes, as well as a decrease in their lengths and branching frequency. These data indicate that synaptic activity is important for maintaining adult OPC numbers and cellular integrity, which is relevant to pathophysiological scenarios characterized by dysregulation of synaptic activity, such as age-related cognitive decline, Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Neuroscience Research published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.