Glutamate dysregulation occurs in multiple sclerosis (MS), but whether excitotoxic mechanisms in mature oligodendrocytes contribute to demyelination and axonal injury is unexplored. Although current treatments modulate the immune system, long-term disability ensues, highlighting the need for neuroprotection. Glutamate is elevated before T2-visible white matter lesions appear in MS. We previously reported that myelin-reactive T cells provoke microglia to release glutamate from the system xc − transporter promoting myelin degradation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). Here, we explore the target for glutamate in mature oligodendrocytes. Most glutamate-stimulated calcium influx into oligodendrocyte somas is AMPA receptor (AMPAR)–mediated, and genetic deletion of AMPAR subunit GluA4 decreased intracellular calcium responses. Inducible deletion of GluA4 on mature oligodendrocytes attenuated EAE and loss of myelinated axons was selectively reduced compared to unmyelinated axons. These data link AMPAR signaling in mature oligodendrocytes to the pathophysiology of myelinated axons, demonstrating glutamate regulation as a potential neuroprotective strategy in MS.
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