Immunobiology of the Peripheral Nervous System

  • Richard A. C. Hughes
Part of the Clinical Medicine and the Nervous System book series (CLIN.MED.NERV.)


Peripheral nerves have unique properties which govern the outcome of inflammatory and immunological disorders affecting them. Nerve cells are in danger of being affected by inflammatory disorders anywhere along their extremely lengthy processes. Some motor neurons and dorsal root ganglion cell axons are more than a metre long. Fortunately the axons are wrapped and protected by myelin or Schwann cell cytoplasm. The integrity of the nerve terminals depends on uninterrupted axonal transport which occurs both at slow and fast (over 400 mm/day) rates. RNA is transcribed and protein and membrane materials are synthesised in the cell body and then transported down the axons. However, the traffic is two-way and for instance IgG (Fabian and Petroff 1987) and viruses, including rabies virus, may be carried from the periphery to the central nervous system via a retrograde axonal transport system. Inflammatory disorders have a particular tendency to affect the proximal ventral and dorsal roots. Vulnerable sites are the spinal cord entry zones, the dorsal root ganglia, and the junction of the ventral and dorsal roots where they become tightly invested by collagenous tissue. This junction is a point at which the nerve fibres might be expected to be particularly prone to compression by an oedematous inflammatory process.


Dorsal Root Ganglion Schwann Cell Peripheral Nervous System Myelin Basic Protein Myelin Sheath 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. C. Hughes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St Thomas’s HospitalsGuy’s HospitalLondonUK

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