PROCESS OF MYELINATION; DEGENERATION AND REGENERATION OF NERVE FIBERS

By Dr. Mudassar Ali Roomi (MBBS, M. Phil)

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Process of myelination

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Process of myelination (cont.)

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Myelination of nerve fibers
In PNS In CNS

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Unmyelinated Fibers
• The CNS is rich in unmyelinated axons which are not sheathed at all but run free among the other neuronal and glial processes. • However in the PNS, even all unmyelinated axons are enveloped within simple folds of Schwann cells. In this situation the glial cell does not form multiple wrapping of itself as myelin. • Unlike their association with individual myelinated axons, each Schwann cell can enclose portions of many unmyelinated axons with small diameters. • Adjacent Schwann cells along unmyelinated nerve fibers do not form nodes of Ranvier.
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Degeneration of nerve fibers
• Injured fibers in peripheral nerves have a good capacity for regeneration and return of function. • In a wounded nerve fiber, changes occurring in the segment proximal to the injury are different from those occurring in the distal segment. • The proximal segment maintains its continuity with the trophic center in the perikaryon and can regenerate, while the distal segment, separated from the nerve cell body, degenerates. • This is called as Wallerian degeneration • Definition: Wallerian degeneration is a process that results when a nerve fiber is cut or crushed, in which the part of the axon separated from the neuron's cell body degenerates distal to the injury.[1] This is also known as anterograde or February 7, 2013 orthograde degeneration

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Degeneration of nerve fibers
• Definition of Wallerian degeneration: it is a process that results when a nerve fiber is cut or crushed, in which the part of the axon separated from the neuron’s cell body degenerates distal to the injury. This is also known as anterograde or orthograde degeneration

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Regeneration of nerve fibers
• Regeneration follows degeneration. • Regeneration is rapid in PNS, allowing for rates of up to 1 millimeter a day of regrowth. • CNS regeneration is much slower, and is almost absent • The onset of regeneration is accompanied by changes in the cell body:
1. 2. 3. chromatolysis or dissolution of the RER and a consequent decrease in cytoplasmic basophilia an increase in the volume of the cell body and migration of the nucleus to a peripheral position in the cell body

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Regeneration of nerve fibers (cont…)
• The proximal segment of the axon degenerates close to the wound for a short distance, but growth starts as soon as debris is removed by macrophages. Macrophages produce cytokines which stimulate Schwann cells’ proliferation. In distal segment, axon and myelin degenerate completely and are removed by macrophages. The nerve fiber's neurolemma does not degenerate and remains as a hollow tube. Schwann cells also proliferate and serve as guides for the sprouting axons formed during the reparative phase.


Why regeneration is not possible in CNS?
1. The primary cause for this could be the delay in clearing up myelin debris. Myelin debris, present in CNS or PNS, contains several inhibitory factors. The elongated presence of myelin debris in CNS could possibly hinder the regeneration. 2. Oligodendrocytes have got no neurilemma!

MEDICAL APPLICATION
• When there is an extensive gap between the distal and proximal segments of cut or injured peripheral nerves, or when the distal segment disappears altogether (as in the case of amputation of a limb), the newly growing axons may form a swelling, or neuroma, that can be the source of spontaneous pain.

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