Cortical myelin can be severely affected in patients with demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system. However, the functional implication of cortical demyelination remains elusive. In this study, we investigated whether cortical myelin influences cortical spreading depression (CSD).
CSD measurements were performed in rodent models of toxic and autoimmune induced cortical demyelination, in neuregulin-1 type I transgenic mice displaying cortical hypermyelination, and in glial fibrillary acidic protein–transgenic mice exhibiting pronounced astrogliosis.
Cortical demyelination, but not astrogliosis or inflammation per se, was associated with accelerated CSD. In contrast, hypermyelinated neuregulin-1 type I transgenic mice displayed a decelerated CSD propagation.
Cortical myelin may be crucially involved in the stabilization and buffering of extracellular ion content that is decisive for CSD propagation velocity and cortical excitability, respectively. Our data thus indicate that cortical involvement in human demyelinating diseases may lead to relevant alterations of cortical function. Ann Neurol 2009;66:355–365