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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2015 Jun 22;8(1):a020479. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a020479.

Oligodendrocytes: Myelination and Axonal Support.

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Cellular Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, 37075 Göttingen, Germany Department of Neurology, University of Göttingen, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Neurogenetics, Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine, 37075 Göttingen, Germany.


Myelinated nerve fibers have evolved to enable fast and efficient transduction of electrical signals in the nervous system. To act as an electric insulator, the myelin sheath is formed as a multilamellar membrane structure by the spiral wrapping and subsequent compaction of the oligodendroglial plasma membrane around central nervous system (CNS) axons. Current evidence indicates that the myelin sheath is more than an inert insulating membrane structure. Oligodendrocytes are metabolically active and functionally connected to the subjacent axon via cytoplasmic-rich myelinic channels for movement of macromolecules to and from the internodal periaxonal space under the myelin sheath. This review summarizes our current understanding of how myelin is generated and also the role of oligodendrocytes in supporting the long-term integrity of myelinated axons.

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