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Dr Raghuveer Choudhary

• Two main types of cells
– Neurons, and – glia

• Are excitable cells • Conduct the impulses that make possible all nervous system functions • They are the WIRING of the nervous system‘s information circuits • The human brain is estimated to contain about 100 billion, or about 10% of the total number of nervous system cells in the brain

• Nerve cell with all it‘s processes is neuron

The Make-up of Neurons
• All neurons consist of: • Cell body

• Dendrites Process
– Are thread like and often known as nerve fibers

• Axon Process
– Are also thread like and often known as nerve fibers

Cell body of a Neuron
• Largest part of the nerve • Contains a nucleus, cytoplasm, and various organelles such as mitochondria and a Golgi apparatus • The cytoplasm also extends into the processes and a plasma membrane encloses the entire neuron • The rough ER (endoplasmic reticulum) has ribosome's that can be stained to form easily apparent structures call NISSL BODIES, which provide protein molecules needed for the transmission of nerve signals and are useful in maintaining and regenerating nerve fibers

Dendrites of a Neuron
• Usually branch extensively from the cell body (like a tree) (which the name comes form the Greek word for tree) • The distal ends of dendrites of sensory neuron may be termed receptors because the receive the stimuli that initiate nerve signals • They receive stimuli and conduct electrical signals toward the cell body and/or axon of the neuron.

Axon of the Neuron
• Is a single process • Usually extends form a tapered portion of the cell body at a location termed AXON HILLOCK • Axons conduct impulses away from the cell body • Even though neurons have only one axon, that axon often has one or more side branches termed axon collaterals • The distal tips of axons form branches called telodendria, which each terminate in a synaptic knob, which contain mitochondria and numerous vesicles

Size of Axons
• Some are a meter long and some are only a few millimeter • Their diameter also varies. The larger the diameter the faster the impulse • An axon can be myelinated or not • However only axons can have myelin sheath, dendrites do not.

Parts:I. Axoni) generally long ii) arises from axon hillock iii) axis cylinder has axoplasm, neurofibrils & mitochondria iv) axons end in terminal buttons v) carry impulses away from cell body II. Dendrite:i) multiple & short ii) contain nissl granules iii) carry impulses towards soma

III. Cell body:- Neurocyton or Soma i) Nucleus- pale, large, spherical, central ii) Neuroplasm- has neurofibrils, nissl granules, mitochondria, golgi apparatus, neurosecretory material

Classifying Neurons
• Two ways:
– Structural – functional

Structural Classification of Neurons
• Can be classified according to the number of extensions form the cell body, there are three types
– Multipolar – Bipolar – unipolar

I. (a) Golgi bottle type I (b) Golgi bottle type II II. Anatomic classificationa) Unipolar b) Pseudounipolar c) Bipolar d) Multipolar e) Apolar

III. Physio-anatomic classificationa) afferent i) somatic ii) visceral b) efferent i) somatic ii) visceral IV. Depending on myelination a) myelinated b) unmyelinated

Multipolar Neurons
• one axon • Several dendrites • Found in the brain and spinal cord

Bipolar Neurons
• • • • one axon Branched dendrites Are the least numerous kind of neuron Found in the:
– retina, – inner ear, and – olfactory pathway.

Unipolar Neurons
• Also termed pseudounipolar neurons • They only have a single process extending form the cell body • Are always sensory neurons, conducting information toward the CNS • This single process branches to form a central process toward the CNS and a peripheral process (away from the CNS), which together for an axon
– It conducts impulses away form the dendrites found at the distal end of the peripheral process

Functional Classification of Neurons
• Can be classified according to the direction in which they conduct impulses, there are three types:
– Afferent – Efferent – Interneuron's

Afferent Neurons
• Are SENSORY • Transmit nerve impulses to the spinal cord or brain

Efferent Neurons
• MOTOR • Transmit nerve impulses away form the brain or spinal cord to or toward muscles or glands

• Conduct impulses from afferent neurons to or toward motor neurons • Located entirely within the CNS (brain and spinal cord)

Glia Cells

Glia or Glial Cells
• Do not usually conduct information themselves but support the function of neurons in various ways

Major Types of Glia
• Common term is NEUROGLIA • Discovered by Italian cell biologist Camillo Golgi (whom also named the Golgi Apparatus in cells)
– He accidentally dropped a piece of brain tissue in a bath of silver nitrate. When he finally found it, golgi could see a vast network of various kinds of darkly stained cells surrounding the neurons—proof that glia existed

• Glia literally means ―GLUE‖ • Studies of glia is now one of the hottest areas in neurobiology • Some say that there is well over 900 billion glia in the nervous system (9 times the amount of stars in the Milky Way)

More About Glia
• Most important thing about glia is that unlike neurons they retain their capacity for cell division throughout adulthood • However, even though this gives glia the ability to replace themselves, it also makes them susceptible to abnormalities of cell division, such as cancer
– Most benign and malignant tumors in the nervous system begin in glial cells

So What is the Role of Glia Cells?
• They serve as various roles in supporting the function of neurons! • There are five major types of glia
– Astrocytes; – Microglia; – Ependymal cells; – Oligodendrocytes; and – Schwann cells

• Star shaped (derived their name from the Greek astron, ―star‖ • Found only in the CNS • Are the largest and most numerous • Their long delicate ―points‖ extend through the brain tissue, attaching to both neurons and the tiny blood capillaries • Also termed ―stars of the nervous system‖

What do astrocytes do?
• The ―feed‖ the neurons by picking up glucose from the blood, converting it to lactic acid, and passing it along to the neurons that they are connected with • Since astrocytes form tight sheaths around the brain‘s blood capillaries they help form the BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER (BBB)

• Is a double barrier made up of astrocyte ―feet‖ and the endothelial cells that make up the walls of the capillaries • Small molecules (oxygen; carbon dioxide; water; and alcohol) diffuse rapidly through the barrier to reach brain neurons and other glia • Large molecules penetrate it slowly or not al all (box 12-1)

Recent news about astrocytes
• Astrocytes may not only influence the growth of neurons and how the neurons connect to form circuits, but may also transmit information along ―astrocyte pathways‖ themselves

• Small • Usually stationary cells found in the CNS
– In inflamed or degenerating brain tissue, microglia enlarge and move about and carry on phagocytosis

• Therefore microglia are functionally and developmentally unrelated to other nervous system cell

Ependymal Cells
• Resemble epithelial cells, forming thin sheets that line fluid-filled cavities in the brain and spinal cord • Some take part in producing the fluid that fills these spaces • Others have cilia that help keep the fluid circulating within the cavities

• Smaller than astrocytes and have fewer processes • Literally means ―cell with few branches‖ (oligo few; dendro branch; cyte cell) • Some lie clustered around nerve cell bodies • Some are arranged in rows between nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord • Function is to help hold nerve fibers together and also serve another more important function—they produce the fatty myelin sheath around nerve fibers in the CNS (Box 12-2)

Schwann Cells
• Only found in the PNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! • Serve as the functional equivalent of the oligodendrocytes, supporting nerve fibers and sometimes forming a myelin sheath around them • Many Schwann cells can wrap themselves around a single nerve fiber

How do Schwann cells form myelin sheaths?
• The myelin sheath is formed by layers of Schwann cell membrane containing the whit, fatty substance ―MYELIN‖ • Microscopic gaps in the sheath, between adjacent Schwann cells are termed NODES OF RANVIER • The myelin sheath and its tiny gaps are important in the proper conduction of impulses along nerve fibers in the PNS

Nerve cells in grey matter are naked. As they enter white matter they acquire myelin sheath. As the nerve leaves CNS it acquires neurolemma (sheath of schwann) Myelin sheatha protein-lipid complex Envelops the axon except at its ending & at nodes of ranvier

MyelinogenesisInside CNS myelin is produced by oligodendroglia & outside CNS by schwann cells Schwann cell wraps around axon up to 100times. This is compacted by apposition of protein zero. Nodes of ranvier are periodic 1μm constrictions which are 1mm apart where there is no myelination

• As each Schwann cell wraps around nerve fibers, its nucleus and cytoplasm are squeezed to the perimeter to form the NEURILEMMA (sheath of Schwann) • The neurilemma is essential to the regeneration of injured nerve fibers • Nerve fibers with many Schwann cells forming a thick myelin sheath are called MYELINATED FIBERS OR WHITE FIBERS • When several nerve fibers are held by a single Schwann cell that does not wrap around them to form a thick myelin sheath, the fibers are termed UNMYELINATED FIBERS OR GRAY FIBERS

Satellite cell
• Is a type of Schwann cell • They surround the cell body of a neuron • They support neuronal cell bodies in regions called GANGLIA in the PNS
– Ganglion Block Shots: are how doctors numb an entire limb or portion of the body such as epidurals.

V. Erlanger-Gasser‘s Classification:Type Function diameter (μm)

Aβ Aγ Aδ


proprioception, somatic motor touch, pressure motor to muscle spindle pain, temperature, touch preganglionic autonomic
i) Dorsal root- pain, touch, 0.4-1.2 ii) postganglionic 0.3-1.3 sympathetic

5-12 3-6 2-5

conduction velocity (m/s) 70-120
30-70 15-30 12-30

0.5-2 0.7-2.3


VI. Numerical classification Number origin fiber type Ia Muscle spindle, Aα annulospiral ending Ib Golgi tendon organ Aα II Muscle spindle, flower-spray A β ending, touch, pressure III Pain, temperature, touch Aδ IV Pain dorsal root ‗C‘ fibers

I. EXCITABILITY- it‘s the ability of a
cell to produce action potential in response to a stimulus. action potential- it‘s a self-propagating change in potential across a cell membrane.



Produced due to application of subthreshold stimulus
It is a local response It is a graded response It has no latent period It has no refractory period Not affected by hypoxia, anaesthesia

Produced due application of threshold stimulus
Propagative type of response All or nothing response It has a latent period It has a refractory period Not produced during hypoxia, anaesthesia

Stimulus- it‘s a change in environment which brings about a change in potential across a membrane in an excitable tissue

Types of stimulii) Electrical ii) Chemical iii) Thermal iv) Mechanical v) Electromagnetic it can also be classified into subliminal, minimal (threshold), sub-maximal and maximal, depending on the strength of stimulus.








RHEOBASE- minimum current required to produce action potential. UTILIZATION TIME- time taken for response when rheobase current is applied. CHRONAXIE- time taken for response when twice rheobase current is applied. It is a measure of excitability of tissues.

Factors affecting excitability
1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Temperature Mechanical pressure Blood supply Chemicals- CO2 & narcotics pH- increased excitability in alkaline and reduced excitability in acidic media. 6) Ions- Na+, Mg++ and K+ are neuroexcitatory and Ca++ is neurosedative

Action potential is self-propagative Conduction may orthodromic or antedromic In axon, conduction is towards terminal buttons physiologically. In myelinated nerves, conduction is saltatory type.

Factors affecting conductivity
i) ii) iii) iv) v) vi) vii) viii) Temperature Mechanical pressure Blood supply Chemicals pH Ions Size of the nerve Myelination

The action potential doesn‘t occur in a nerve if the stimulus is sub-threshold. If the stimulus is threshold and above, the action potential produced will be of same amplitude, regardless of intensity of stimulus.

* The frequency of action potential increases with the increasing intensity of stimulus.

1) Absolute refractory periodit is the period during an action potential, during which a second stimulus can‘t produce a second response.

2) Relative refractory periodit is the period during an action potential, during which a stimulus of higher intensity can produce a second response

• When a stimulus is applied very slowly, no matter however strong it might be, it fails to produce an action potential. • Cause: a slowly applied stimulus causes slower opening of Na+ channels with concomitant opening of K+ channels. The influx Na+ of is balanced by efflux of K+ .

• Multi-peaked action potential recorded from a mixed nerve bundle is called a compound action potential.