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J Theor Biol. 2005 Aug 21;235(4):451-62.

Internodal sodium channels ensure active processes under myelin manifesting in depolarizing afterpotentials.

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  • 1Centre of Biomedical Engineering, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Acad. G. Bonchev Str., Bl. 105, Sofia 1113, Bulgaria.


The current opinion about processes in myelinated axon is that action potential saltatorially propagates between nodes of Ranvier and passively charges internodal axolemma thus causing depolarizing afterpotentials (DAP). Demyelination blocks the conduction that gives additional argument in favor of hypothesis that internode is not able to be activated by the existing internodal sodium channels. The results of our modeling study shows that, when periaxonal space is sufficiently narrow, saltatorial action potential is able to activate internodes. Low density of internodal sodium channels is sufficient to generate active internodal waves that slowly propagate from nodes towards corresponding midinternodes where they collide. The periaxonal width that stops internodal wave propagation (about 400 nm) is significantly larger than the highest value of the physiological range for this parameter (30 nm). Internodal activation is directly manifested as transmembrane internodal potential or as a full-sized action potential in periaxonal space where it can hardly be detected, and only as a small deflection in intracellular space. However, changes in the periaxonal potential cause transmyelin currents that lead to significant DAP. The shape and amplitude of DAP depends on myelin parameters and densities of internodal channels. Several technical parameters affect the results of calculations. Internodal spatial segmentation has to be sufficiently fine (at most 20 microm) for the model to be able to simulate internodal activation. We employ 338 internodal segments as compared with up to 21 used in previous models. Ionic accumulation together with related diffusive and electrical processes alter the calculated DAP amplitude. Inclusion of these processes in calculations demands such increase in the total number of segments that the numerical methods used up to now become unapplicable. To overcome the problem, an iterative implicit approach is proposed. It reduces a matrix of general type in multi-cable models to tridiagonal one and accelerates calculations considerably.

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