Disrupted axo-glial junctions result in accumulation of abnormal mitochondria at nodes of ranvier

Neuron Glia Biol. 2006 Aug;2(3):165-74. doi: 10.1017/S1740925X06000275.


Mitochondria and other membranous organelles are frequently enriched in the nodes and paranodes of peripheral myelinated axons, particularly those of large caliber. The physiologic role(s) of this organelle enrichment and the rheologic factors that regulate it are not well understood. Previous studies suggest that axonal transport of organelles across the nodal/paranodal region is locally regulated. In this study, we have examined the ultrastructure of myelinated axons in the sciatic nerves of mice deficient in the contactin-associated protein (Caspr), an integral junctional component. These mice, which lack the normal septate-like junctions that promote attachment of the glial (paranodal) loops to the axon, contain aberrant mitochondria in their nodal/paranodal regions. These mitochondria are typically large and swollen and occupy prominent varicosities of the nodal axolemma. In contrast, mitochondria located outside the nodal/paranodal regions of the myelinated axons appear normal. These findings suggest that paranodal junctions regulate mitochondrial transport and function in the axoplasm of the nodal/paranodal region of myelinated axons of peripheral nerves. They further implicate the paranodal junctions in playing a role, either directly or indirectly, in the local regulation of energy metabolism in the nodal region.