its initial finding in the 1800s until recently myelin was considered a simple insulator for axons and its formation was believed to be regulated by predetermined biochemical and cellular processes. begin in adolescence or young adulthood a time when myelination in several mind regions such as the temporal lobes and prefrontal frontal cortex (PFC) is still ongoing. Here we discuss the current thinking on how experience influences myelin and its implications for mental health and disease. Human being imaging studies possess documented changes in myelin that correlate with various types of experience. For example it has been reported that people with piano teaching show white matter alterations in mind regions involved in sensory-motor AT 56 control which correlate with years of practice.2 Conversely reduced white matter in auditory centers of the brain has been observed in congenitally deaf adults.3 The quality of early life experience may also influence the course of myelin development e.g. reductions in corpus callosum area have been found in children subjected to abuse or overlook.4 It is therefore apparent that different forms of experience may both boost and decrease white matter size or structure which in turn are likely to significantly affect mind function. While these human being imaging studies provide strong evidence for white matter plasticity animal-base studies have provided insight into cellular molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying the interplay between myelin and encounter and how these processes relate to psychiatric illness. A AT 56 key query has been how might adverse encounter impact myelin in early existence and adulthood. To pursue this problem a recent study by our lab explored the part of sociable encounter on myelin development and function in the PFC an area of the brain implicated in multiple psychiatric disorders. We discovered that AT 56 mice subjected to sociable isolation during the juvenile period develop PFC hypomyelination and display cognitive and sociable impairments indicative of PFC dysfunction.5 Importantly these effects are induced by a brief period of isolation (the 4th and Rabbit Polyclonal to ATN1. 5th week of life) but not by a longer period (four weeks) if isolation begins in the 6th week of life indicative of a critical or sensitive period. In addition to myelin problems sociable isolation reduces manifestation of type III NRG1 a neuronal ligand for ErbB receptors that is involved in several aspects of mind development.6 Remarkably oligodendrocyte-specific ErbB3 knockout produces the same myelin and behavioral deficits induced by sociable isolation. Collectively these findings show that juvenile sociable experience influences PFC AT 56 myelination via NRG1/ErbB3 receptor signaling between neurons and oligodendrocytes and that deficits in PFC myelin contribute to the behavioral and cognitive impairments induced by sociable isolation. A subsequent study reported that longer periods of isolation starting in adulthood also lead to PFC hypomyelination suggesting that sociable experience is needed to sustain PFC myelin throughout existence. However whereas deficits in myelin induced by isolation during juvenile development could not become rescued by later on sociable re-integration the damaging effects of isolation in adulthood are reversed by subsequent sociable exposure.7 Thus it appears that sociable experience takes on a pivotal AT 56 part in the health of PFC myelination and that isolation-induced myelin abnormalities cause impairments in cognition and sociable functioning. What are the mechanisms linking encounter to myelin plasticity? One probability is that alterations in neuronal activity regulate signals produced by neurons such as cell surface ligands e.g. type III NRG1 or the axonal launch of neurotransmitters which in turn influence myelin. For instance it has been reported that glutamate released during neuronal activity induces myelin formation by signaling through NMDA and metabotropic glutamate receptors on cells of the oligodendrocyte lineage.8 As an alternative to neuronal activity certain forms of experience particularly those that activate the hypothalamic pituitary axis may influence the blood circulation of stress hormones which in turn affect myelin. For example immobilization stress and glucocorticoid administration both promote oligodendrocyte differentiation in the rodent hippocampus.9 There is also evidence that experience induces epigenetic changes in oligodendrocytes. Specifically oligodendrocytes in the PFC of juvenile and adult mice subjected to sociable isolation have less tightly packed chromatin a feature.