Unraveling Myelin Plasticity
Plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS) allows for responses to changing environmental signals. While the majority of studies on brain plasticity focus on neuronal synapses, myelin plasticity has now begun to emerge as a potential modulator of neuronal networks. Oligodendrocytes (OLs) produce myelin, which provides fast signal transmission, allows for synchronization of neuronal inputs, and helps to maintain neuronal function. Thus, myelination is also thought to be involved in learning. OLs differentiate from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), which are distributed throughout the adult brain, and myelination continues into late adulthood. This process is orchestrated by numerous cellular and molecular signals, such as axonal diameter, growth factors, extracellular signaling molecules, and neuronal activity. However, the relative importance of, and cooperation between, these signaling pathways is currently unknown. In this review, we focus on the current knowledge about myelin plasticity in the CNS. We discuss new insights into the link between this type of plasticity, learning and behavior, as well as mechanistic aspects of myelin formation that may underlie myelin plasticity, highlighting OPC diversity in the CNS.