Stanford Psychiatry Team Awarded Grant to Research the Circadian Mechanisms of Myelination

January 30, 2023

Erin Gibson, PhD

This grant funds Dr. Gibson’s project, “Circadian mechanisms of myelination,” which will investigate how the circadian system regulates oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) and consequent myelination — OPCs are the precursor cells to myelin-forming oligodendrocytes that encapsulate neuronal axons in myelin, facilitating the transmission of electrical impulses along nerve cells.

“Many brain disorders are associated with circadian and myelin phenotypes, but how these two biological processes intersect during brain maturation remains unknown,” writes Dr. Gibson in the research abstract. “The proposed experiments aim to deepen our understanding of the circadian mechanisms mediating myelin-forming cell dynamics and myelination in neurodevelopment and early adulthood.”

Dysmyelination is documented in individuals with autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. This research aims to better understand the relationship between circadian modulation and OPC maintenance and myelination to shed light on the mechanisms of brain health and potential therapeutic strategies to treat various brain disorders.

“There remains an unmet need to define the mechanisms mediating OPC dynamics during these two types of myelination [developmental myelination in early-life and myelin plasticity in adulthood] and to reveal their roles in defining and refining circuits and behavior in development and disease,” writes Dr. Gibson.

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