In this study from France they looked at the role of the androgen receptor in myelin repair. As males are less likely to develop MS and if they do they tend to have a more severe disease, these observations have resulted in a lot of interest in the potential protective effects of androgens.
Chronic brain demyelination and oligodendrocyte depletion were induced in mice by cuprizone intoxication for 12 weeks. After this the mice were treated for six weeks with subcutaneous implants filled either with testosterone, 5α-DHT (5α-dihydrotestosterone) or 7α-methyl-19-nortestosterone.
They found that testosterone treatment efficiently stimulates the formation of new myelin and reverses myelin damage in chronic demyelination brain lesions. Also, the number of activated astrocytes and microglial cells returned to low control levels, indicating a reduction of neuroinflammatory responses.
The study group also showed that the neural brain androgen receptor is required for the remyelination effect of testosterone and the presence of the receptor in microglia and in peripheral tissue is not sufficient to enhance remyelination. Therefore, this data demonstrates the efficacy of androgens as remyelinating agents and the potential of the brain androgen receptor as a promising drug target for remyelinating therapy.
Authors: Hussain R, Ghoumari AM, Bielecki B
Source: Brain. 2013 Jan;136(Pt 1):132-46. doi: 10.1093/brain/aws284
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