Conduction properties of central nerve fibers remyelinated by Schwann cells

Paul A. Felts, Kenneth J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)


Demyelination of central axons arises from a number of conditions, including multiple sclerosis and spinal cord compression. The demyelination disrupts conduction and leads directly to the production of symptoms. Repair of the demyelination by peripheral myelinating cells could potentially relieve the symptoms, but the conduction properties of central axons remyelinated by Schwann cells have yet to be studied in detail. This paper examined the conduction properties of such axons. Large focal demyelinating and remyelinating lesions were induced in the dorsal columns of rats by the intraspinal injection of ethidium bromide. Recordings of compound action potentials conducted through these lesions were then made at various recovery times. Thus the changing conduction properties of the affected fibers could be correlated with the different stages of lesion development. During the early stages of demyelination there was widespread conduction block, with no evidence of appreciable conduction occurring with prolonged latency or refractory period of transmission (RPT). However, with the onset of remyelination by Schwann cells, conduction was restored in many axons, and most, if not all, of the affected axons eventually showed successful conduction through the lesion. Initially the conduction was characterized by very prolonged latency, long RPT, and an inability to conduct fast trains of impulses. These deficits became less prominent as remyelination progressed. In chronically remyelinated axons the RPT was restored to within normal limits, although some deficit in both conduction velocity and the ability to conduct trains of impulses persisted. Since these deficits were not severe we conclude that remyelination of central demyelinated axons by Schwann cells should be effective in promoting the restoration of normal function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-192
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 1992


  • Central nervous system
  • Demyelinating disease
  • Electrode implantation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Remyelination
  • Schwann cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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