Paranodal myelin damage is observed in white matter injury. However the culprit for such damage remains unknown. By coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering imaging of myelin sheath in fresh tissues with sub-micron resolution, we observed significant paranodal myelin splitting and retraction following glutamate application both ex vivo and in vivo. Multimodal multiphoton imaging further showed that glutamate application broke axo-glial junctions and exposed juxtaparanodal K+ channels, resulting in axonal conduction deficit that was demonstrated by compound action potential measurements. The use of 4-aminopyridine, a broad-spectrum K+ channel blocker, effectively recovered both the amplitude and width of compound action potentials. Using CARS imaging as a quantitative readout of nodal length to diameter ratio, the same kind of paranodal myelin retraction was observed with applications of Ca2+ ionophore A23187. Moreover, exclusion of Ca2+ from the medium or application of calpain inhibitor abolished paranodal myelin retraction during glutamate exposure. Examinations of glutamate receptor agonists and antagonists further showed that the paranodal myelin damage was mediated by NMDA and kainate receptors. These results suggest that an increased level of glutamate in diseased white matter could impair paranodal myelin through receptor-mediated Ca2+ overloading and subsequent calpain activation.


This is the publisher pdf of Fu Y, Sun W, Shi Y, Shi R, Cheng J-X (2009) Glutamate Excitotoxicity Inflicts Paranodal Myelin Splitting and Retraction. PLoS ONE 4(8): e6705 and is available at: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006705.

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