Department of Immunology and Infection, Biomedical Research Institute, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium
Phloretin enhances remyelination by stimulating oligodendrocyte precursor cell differentiation
Failure of remyelination underlies the progressive nature of demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Why endogenous repair mechanisms frequently fail in these disorders is poorly understood. However, there is now evidence indicating that this is related to an overly inflammatory microenvironment combined with the intrinsic inability of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) to differentiate into mature myelinating cells. Previously, we found that phloretin, a flavonoid abundantly present in apples and strawberries, reduces neuroinflammation by driving macrophages toward an antiinflammatory phenotype. Here, we show that phloretin also markedly stimulates remyelination in ex vivo and in vivo animal models. Improved remyelination was attributed to a direct impact of phloretin on OPC maturation and occurred independently from alterations in microglia function and inflammation. We found, mechanistically, that phloretin acts as a direct ligand for the fatty acid sensing nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, thereby promoting the maturation of OPCs. Together, our findings indicate that phloretin has proregenerative properties in central nervous system disorders, with potentially broad implications for the development of therapeutic strategies and dietary interventions aimed at promoting remyelination.