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ISRN Neurol. 2012;2012:769412. doi: 10.5402/2012/769412. Epub 2012 Dec 30.

Polarization and myelination in myelinating glia.

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Department of Medical Science, Teikyo University of Science, 2-2-1 Senju-Sakuragi, Adachi-ku, Tokyo 120-0045, Japan.


Myelinating glia, oligodendrocytes in central nervous system and Schwann cells in peripheral nervous system, form myelin sheath, a multilayered membrane system around axons enabling salutatory nerve impulse conduction and maintaining axonal integrity. Myelin sheath is a polarized structure localized in the axonal side and therefore is supposed to be formed based on the preceding polarization of myelinating glia. Thus, myelination process is closely associated with polarization of myelinating glia. However, cell polarization has been less extensively studied in myelinating glia than other cell types such as epithelial cells. The ultimate goal of this paper is to provide insights for the field of myelination research by applying the information obtained in polarity study in other cell types, especially epithelial cells, to cell polarization of myelinating glia. Thus, in this paper, the main aspects of cell polarization study in general are summarized. Then, they will be compared with polarization in oligodendrocytes. Finally, the achievements obtained in polarization study for epithelial cells, oligodendrocytes, and other types of cells will be translated into polarization/myelination process by Schwann cells. Then, based on this model, the perspectives in the study of Schwann cell polarization/myelination will be discussed.

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