A new approach toward analyzing peripheral nerve fiber populations. I. Variance in sheath thickness corresponds to different geometric proportions of the internodes

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1985 Jan;44(1):60-72. doi: 10.1097/00005072-198501000-00005.


The thickness of the myelin sheath is known to increase with axon caliber, but there is also a superimposed, slight variation in sheath thickness depending on whether a fiber of a given caliber has very long or very short internodes. This relationship between myelin sheath thickness and the geometric proportion of the internode has been shown in subserial sections of isolated nerve fibers. It allows a prediction of sheath thickness from the quotient internode length/axon caliber, or conversely, a prediction of internode foreshortening from sheath thickness. We applied this new approach to the analysis of sciatic fiber populations of frogs, mice, rats and cats. The geometric proportions of these fibers were defined by the quotient internode length/fiber caliber. This quotient was compared with minor variation in sheath thickness as determined with a computer-assisted technique measuring large numbers of fibers in low-power electron micrographs. The method also calculated fiber shrinkage and recalculated all data for circular fiber profiles. The data obtained confirmed previous electron microscopic measurements showing that there is a slight reduction in sheath thickness when a fiber of a given caliber has relatively short internodes, and vice versa. A population of very thin, thinly myelinated fibers was also revealed. Sheath thickness and the geometric proportions of internodes in frogs differed markedly from those in mammals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / anatomy & histology
  • Cats
  • Female
  • Male
  • Muridae
  • Myelin Sheath / anatomy & histology*
  • Ranidae
  • Rodentia