The local differentiation of myelinated axons at nodes of Ranvier

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2003 Dec;4(12):968-80. doi: 10.1038/nrn1253.


Efficient and rapid propagation of action potentials in myelinated axons depends on the molecular specialization of the nodes of Ranvier. The nodal region is organized into several distinct domains, each of which contains a unique set of ion channels, cell-adhesion molecules and cytoplasmic adaptor proteins. Voltage-gated Na+ channels - which are concentrated at the nodes - are separated from K+ channels - which are clustered at the juxtaparanodal region - by a specialized axoglial contact that is formed between the axon and the myelinating cell at the paranodes. This local differentiation of myelinated axons is tightly regulated by oligodendrocytes and myelinating Schwann cells, and is achieved through complex mechanisms that are used by another specialized cell-cell contact - the synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism
  • Ranvier's Nodes / physiology*
  • Ranvier's Nodes / ultrastructure
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels