Essential Macromolecular Structures for the Function of the Myelin Membrane of Central Nervous System

  • W. Stoffel
Conference paper
Part of the Veröffentlichungen aus der Geomedizinischen Forschungsstelle der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften book series (HD AKAD, volume 1990 / 1990/2)

Abstract

The myelination of axons was a decisive step in evolution which achieved several advantages. The myelin sheath forms an insulator of axons. Several plasma membrane processes of oligodendrocytes target different axons and wrap these spirally at a width of 1–2 µm, leaving the axons naked only at small areas, at the nodes of Ranvier, where the saltatory conductance occurs associated with a depolarization of this very restricted area. This saltatory mode of conductance leads to a 100fold and more increase in the velocity of information transfer between neurons and target cells. Myelination allows a rapid conductance with a reduced diameter of axons. Therefore several times more axons can be accommodated in the same space compared to unmyelinated axons. This explains the importance of myelin for the compaction of the CNS. Repolarization of the axon is limited to the nodes of Ranvier and therefore leads to an enormous saving of energy otherwise required for the repolarization of continuously depolarized naked axons.

Keywords

Ceramide Sphingosine Mumps Smallpox Adrenoleukodystrophy 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Stoffel
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für BiochemieMedizinische Fakultät der Universität zu KölnKöln 41West Germany

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