Review article for CTR special issue edited by C. Schachtrup Title of Special Issue: "Modulating scar formation for improving brain repair" Loss-of-function manipulations to identify roles of diverse glia and stromal cells during CNS scar formation
Shalaka Wahane, Michael V Sofroniew
Scar formation is the replacement of parenchymal cells by stromal cells and fibrotic extracellular matrix. Until as recently as 25 years ago, little was known about the major functional contributions of different neural and non-neural cell types in the formation of scar tissue and tissue fibrosis in the CNS. Concepts about CNS scar formation are evolving rapidly with the availability of different types of loss-of-function technologies that allow mechanistic probing of cellular and molecular functions in models of CNS disorders in vivo. Such loss-of-function studies are beginning to reveal that scar formation and tissue fibrosis in the CNS involves complex interactions amongst multiple types of CNS glia and non-neural stromal cells. For example, attenuating functions of the CNS resident glial cells, astrocytes or microglia, can disrupt the formation of limitans borders that form around stromal cell scars, which leads to increased spread of inflammation, increased loss of neural tissue, and increased fibrosis. Insights are being gained into specific neuropathological mechanisms whereby specific dysfunctions of different types of CNS glia could cause or contribute to disorder-related tissue pathology and dysfunction. CNS glia, as well as fibrosis-producing stromal cells, are emerging as potential major contributors to diverse CNS disorders either through loss- or gain-of-functions, and are thereby emerging as important potential targets for interventions. In this article, we will review and discuss the effects on CNS scar formation and tissue repair of loss-of-function studies targeted at different specific cell types in various disorder models in vivo.