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Roles of white matter in central nervous system pathophysiologies

Author(s): Carlos Matute | Bruce R Ransom

Journal: ASN Neuro
ISSN 1759-0914

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: e00079;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: demyelination | excitotoxicity | human brain | ischaemia | multiple sclerosis | spinal cord injury | stroke

The phylogenetic enlargement of cerebral cortex culminating in the human brain imposed greater communication needs that have been met by the massive expansion of WM (white matter). Damage to WM alters brain function, and numerous neurological diseases feature WM involvement. In the current review, we discuss the major features of WM, the contributions of WM compromise to brain pathophysiology, and some of the mechanisms mediating WM injury. We will emphasize the newly appreciated importance of neurotransmitter signalling in WM, particularly glutamate and ATP signalling, to understanding both normal and abnormal brain functions. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms leading to WM damage will generate much-needed insights for developing therapies for acute and chronic diseases with WM involvement.
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