Automated in vivo Tracking of Cortical Oligodendrocytes

Yu Kang T. Xu, Cody L. Call, Jeremias Sulam, Dwight E. Bergles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oligodendrocytes exert a profound influence on neural circuits by accelerating action potential conduction, altering excitability, and providing metabolic support. As oligodendrogenesis continues in the adult brain and is essential for myelin repair, uncovering the factors that control their dynamics is necessary to understand the consequences of adaptive myelination and develop new strategies to enhance remyelination in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, few methods exist for analysis of oligodendrocyte dynamics, and even fewer are suitable for in vivo investigation. Here, we describe the development of a fully automated cell tracking pipeline using convolutional neural networks (Oligo-Track) that provides rapid volumetric segmentation and tracking of thousands of cells over weeks in vivo. This system reliably replicated human analysis, outperformed traditional analytic approaches, and extracted injury and repair dynamics at multiple cortical depths, establishing that oligodendrogenesis after cuprizone-mediated demyelination is suppressed in deeper cortical layers. Volumetric data provided by this analysis revealed that oligodendrocyte soma size progressively decreases after their generation, and declines further prior to death, providing a means to predict cell age and eventual cell death from individual time points. This new CNN-based analysis pipeline offers a rapid, robust method to quantitatively analyze oligodendrocyte dynamics in vivo, which will aid in understanding how changes in these myelinating cells influence circuit function and recovery from injury and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number667595
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 12 2021


  • automation
  • cuprizone
  • deep learning
  • in vivo cell tracking
  • injury/repair
  • oligodendrocyte
  • two photon imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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