Developing a novel mouse model to study the role of osteopontin in multiple sclerosis

Start Term
End Term
April 1, 2025
Funding Amount
University of Saskatchewan
Geographic Region(s) / Province(s)
Research Priorities
Cause of MS
Impact Goal(s)
Understand and Halt Disease Progression


  • We need a better understanding of the factors driving inflammation and degeneration in MS in order to develop improved treatments. 
  • Dr. Yifei Jeff Dong and team will examine the role of a protein called osteopontin (OPN) in MS pathology and aging by creating a novel mouse model.
  • Knowledge generated from this research will lay the foundation for future studies to further understand the role of OPN in MS progression. 

Project Description: 

Dr. Yifei Jeff Dong and team aim to examine the role of a protein called osteopontin (OPN) in regulating inflammation and repair in MS. High levels of OPN are found in the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord and in lesions in the brains of people with MS. In a mouse model of MS, OPN promotes neuroinflammation and disability. 

Dr. Dong previously found that OPN accumulates in the spinal cord and in spinal cord immune cells of aging mice compared to young mice. Excess OPN in the spinal cord of aging mice impairs the function of immune cells and results in greater loss of nerve fibers. These results indicate that OPN may contribute to MS disease progression in people with MS, especially as they age. 

Researchers aim to understand which cells produce OPN in the central nervous system, how different cells respond to OPN, and how regulating OPN during inflammation or repair stages of disease affect neurodegeneration. To study the role of OPN in MS pathology and aging, this study will create a novel mouse model that will allow OPN to be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ in specific immune cells and at select timepoints after injury or MS disease onset.  

Potential Impact: Development of this mouse model will form the foundation for understanding OPN in MS disease progression and aging. 

Project Status: In Progress