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Schwann cells

 

Explanations > Brains > Parts > Schwann cells

 

In the same way that oligodendrocytes support axons and produce myelin in the central nervous system, so also do Schwann cells support axons in the peripheral nervous system. Most axons in the peripheral nervous system are myelinated, as compared with with the central nervous system.

One oligodendrocytes can create multiple myelin segments with its many 'tentacles'. One Schwann cell, by contrast, creates only one myelin segment by coiling itself fully around a part of the axon.

If the axon is damaged, the Schwann cells will not only help absorb the dead axon but will also align to form a tube for a new axon to be grown in. When an axon dies, the neuron grows multiple 'sprouts'. When one of these finds the Schwann tube, it grows quickly through it (at 3-4 mm/day) whilst the other sprouts wither.

Central  nervous system cells do not regenerate in this way. Schwann myelin is also resistant to the attack of multiple sclerosis -- unlike the oliodendrocyte myelin in the central nervous system.

See also

Neurons, Glia

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