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expert reaction to study exposing oligodendrocytes in a dish to environmental chemicals

A study published in Nature Neuroscience looks at possible effects of environmental chemicals on oligodendrocytes. 


Prof Oliver Jones, Professor of Chemistry, RMIT University In Melbourne, said:

“I think the screening platform the authors have developed in this study is useful and it is interesting to see the possible effects of certain chemicals on nerve cells. However, it is important to be careful about translating results from the lab to the real world.

“When we’re evaluating the risks of a chemical we need to consider things like the dose (how much of the compound we are exposed to) the route (how we are exposed) and the duration (how long we are exposed). It is not a question of if something is toxic or not but if it is toxic under the conditions to which we are likely to be exposed.

“In this case, the authors have exposed cells in a Petri dish to a relatively high amount of these compounds, which is not the same dose route or duration of exposure that humans would normally encounter. Many of the experiments were carried out on mouse, rather than human, cells and mice are not mini humans.

“So, although the work reveals some potentially interesting and useful data it should be treated as preliminary. As the authors themselves are good enough to admit more studies are required to determine the full impact (if any) of these compounds.”


‘Pervasive environmental chemicals impair oligodendrocyte development’ by Erin F. Cohn et al. was published in Nature Neuroscience at 16:00 UK time on Monday 25th March.


DOI: 10.1038/s41593-024-01599-2


Declared interests

Prof Oliver Jones: I don’t have any conflicts of interest to declare.

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