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Acta Neuropathol. 2014 Aug;128(2):161-75. doi: 10.1007/s00401-014-1305-z. Epub 2014 Jun 10.

The node of Ranvier in CNS pathology.

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Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK.


Healthy nodes of Ranvier are crucial for action potential propagation along myelinated axons, both in the central and in the peripheral nervous system. Surprisingly, the node of Ranvier has often been neglected when describing CNS disorders, with most pathologies classified simply as being due to neuronal defects in the grey matter or due to oligodendrocyte damage in the white matter. However, recent studies have highlighted changes that occur in pathological conditions at the node of Ranvier, and at the associated paranodal and juxtaparanodal regions where neurons and myelinating glial cells interact. Lengthening of the node of Ranvier, failure of the electrically resistive seal between the myelin and the axon at the paranode, and retraction of myelin to expose voltage-gated K(+) channels in the juxtaparanode, may contribute to altering the function of myelinated axons in a wide range of diseases, including stroke, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis. Here, we review the principles by which the node of Ranvier operates and its molecular structure, and thus explain how defects at the node and paranode contribute to neurological disorders.

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