BMP receptor blockade overcomes extrinsic inhibition of remyelination and restores neurovascular homeostasis

AbstractExtrinsic inhibitors at sites of blood–brain barrier disruption and neurovascular damage contribute to remyelination failure in neurological diseases. However, therapies to overcome the extrinsic inhibition of remyelination are not widely available and the dynamics of glial progenitor niche remodeling at sites of neurovascular dysfunction are largely unknown. By integrating in vivo two-photon imaging co-registered with electron microscopy and transcriptomics in chronic neuroinflammatory lesions, we found that oligodendrocyte precursor cells clustered perivascularly at sites of limited remyelination with deposition of fibrinogen, a blood coagulation factor abundantly deposited in multiple sclerosis lesions. By developing a screen (OPC-X-screen) to identify compounds that promote remyelination in the presence of extrinsic inhibitors, we showed that known promyelinating drugs did not rescue the extrinsic inhibition of remyelination by fibrinogen. In contrast, bone morphogenetic protein type I receptor blockade rescued the inhibitory fibrinogen effects and restored a promyelinating progenitor niche by promoting myelinating oligodendrocytes, while suppressing astrocyte cell fate, with potent therapeutic effects in chronic models of multiple sclerosis. Thus, abortive oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation by fibrinogen is refractory to known promyelinating compounds, suggesting that blockade of the bone morphogenetic protein signalling pathway may enhance remyelinating efficacy by overcoming extrinsic inhibition in neuroinflammatory lesions with vascular damage.