skip to content

Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Regulation of myelin formation, plasticity and regeneration

The CNS white matter links billions of neurons in the grey matter. Its function depends on oligodendrocytes enwrapping neuronal axons with myelin to synchronize and increase information flow between neurons: essential for our cognitive abilities, our perception of the world and our motor skills. The importance
of myelin is evident in disease, as when damaged it leads to both mental and physical disability.   Myelin regeneration can occur spontaneously in demyelinating disease, as adult oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs; a CNS stem cell that comprises 5% of all cells in the brain) respond to the demyelinating injury and differentiate into new myelinating oligodendrocytes. However, this process often fails, making OPCs differentiation an important therapeutic target. 

We have previously shown that OPCs express neurotransmitter receptors and receive synaptic inputs from neuronal axons in the white matter, hence are capable of sensing neuronal activity.  The lab’s interest is to understand how synaptic inputs from neurons induce OPCs to differentiate and myelinate axons during development and with normal ageing; this also could be an underlying mechanism for white matter plasticity.

The devastating consequences of dys/demyelination, in diseases like cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis makes it important to study how OPCs differentiation is regulated.  We are actively investigating how OPCs respond to myelin injury and whether neuronal activity and neurotransmitter signalling may regulate the myelin repair process. Our ultimate aim is to find new treatments for white matter disease.


Key publications: 

Neuronal activity regulates remyelination via glutamate signaling to oligodendrocyte progenitors.  Gautier HO, Evans K, Lundgaard I, James F, Lao-Peregrin C, Franklin RJM & Káradóttir R (2015).  Nature Communications 6: 8518. 

Neuregulin and BDNF induce a switch to NMDA receptor dependent myelination by oligodendrocytesLundgaard I, Luzhynskaya A, Stockley JH, Wang Z, Evans KA, Swire M, Volbracht K, Gautier HO, Franklin RJM, ffrench-Constant C, Attwell D & Káradóttir R (2013). PLoS Biology 11(12):e1001743. 

Spiking and nonspiking classes of oligodendrocyte precursor glia in CNS white matter. Káradóttir R*, Hamilton N, Bakiri Y &Attwell D (2008). Nature Neuroscience 11(4): 450-456

Combining patch-clamping of cells in brain slices with immunocytochemical labelling to define cell type and developmental stage. Káradóttir R & Attwell D (2006). Nature Protocols 1(4): 1977-1985.

NMDA receptors are expressed in oligodendrocytes and activated in ischaemia. Káradóttir R, Cavalier P, Bergersen LH & Attwell D (2005).  Nature 438: 1162-1166. 

Reader in Cellular Neuroscience
Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy


Local Affiliations: 
Person keywords: 
Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs)
Neurotransmitter receptors
Biosciences and Biotechnology Research Council
MS Society
Paul G. Allen Family foundation
The Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine
Wellcome Trust