, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 285-294

Myelin sheath remodelling in remyelinated rat sciatic nerve

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In order to elicit de- and remyelination adult rat sciatic nerves were injected with diphtheria toxin dissolved in phosphate buffered saline (PBS). Control nerves were injected with PBS alone. After survival times of 1–10 weeks, the animals were perfused with glutaraldehyde. Specimens from the injected nerves were processed for light microscopic (LM) examination of teased fibres or for electron microscopic (EM) examination of longitudinal thin sections. LM examination of teased fibres after survival times of 6–10 weeks, showed that most remyelinated internodes are 150–300 μm long. In addition, some exceptionally short Schwann cell sheaths, with lengths of 15–150 μm, occur intercalated between conventional remyelinated internodes. EM analysis of thin sections showed that axonal evaginations penetrate in between the terminating myelin lamellae in fibres with nodal widening and/or paranodal demyelination, at early stages of demyelination. Such alterations are not present in relation to myelin sheaths formed during remyelination, which commences about 3 weeks after injection. In addition, some scattered contracted Schwann cell sheaths, which may be as short as 5–10 μm, occur at all stages. These are more frequent shortly after onset of remyelination than at later stages, and they are either composed of a cytoplasmic investment bordered by heminodes, or a more or less distorted myelin sheath bordered by nodes of Ranvier. This picture is very similar to the myelin sheath remodelling observed in regenerated rat sciatic nerves, and in some developing nerves with a mismatch between nerve growth and internodal elongation. It is concluded that a myelin sheath remodelling occurs in deand remyelinated rat sciatic nerve, presumably as a result of the lack of longitudinal growth.