Pharmacological and BBB-targeted genetic therapies for thyroid hormonedependent hypomyelination
Hypomyelination is a key symptom of the Allan-Herndon-Dudley syndrome (AHDS), a psychomotor retardation associated with mutations in the thyroid-hormone (TH) transporter MCT8. AHDS is characterized by severe intellectual deficiency, neuromuscular impairment, and brain hypothyroidism. In order to understand the mechanism for TH-dependent hypomyelination, we developed an mct8 mutant (mct8/-) zebrafish model. The quantification of genetic markers for oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and mature oligodendrocytes revealed reduced differentiation of OPCs into oligodendrocytes in mct8-/- larvae and adults. Live imaging of single glial cells showed that the number of oligodendrocytes and the length of their extensions are reduced, and the number of peripheral Schwann cells is increased in mct8-/- larvae. Pharmacological analysis showed that TH analogs and clemastine partially rescued the hypomyelination in the CNS of mct8-/- larvae. Intriguingly, triiodothyronine (T3) treatment rescued hypomyelination in mct8-/- embryos before the maturation of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), but did not affect hypomyelination in older larvae. Thus, we expressed Mct8-tagRFP in the endothelial cells of the vascular system and showed that even relatively weak mosaic expression completely rescued hypomyelination in mct8/- larvae. These results suggest potential pharmacological treatments and BBB-targeted gene therapy that can enhance myelination in AHDS and possibly in other THdependent brain disorders.