Determinants of anisotropic water diffusion in nerves

Magn Reson Med. 1994 Apr;31(4):394-400. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910310408.


We report NMR diffusion measurements of water in three central nervous system models, namely the nonmyelinated olfactory, and the myelinated trigeminal and optic nerves of the spotted and long-nosed garfish. A similar degree of anisotropy of the average diffusion coefficients (DNMR) is observed for all three freshly excised nerve types (DNMR(parallel)/DNMR-(perpendicular) is 3.6 +/- 1.2, 3.2 +/- 0.9, and 2.6 +/- 0.4 for the olfactory, trigeminal, and optic nerves, respectively). The anisotropy of DNMR for the nonmyelinated olfactory nerve argues strongly that myelin is not a necessary determinant of diffusional anisotropy in ordered axonal systems (even though it may contribute when present). Garfish nerves treated with vinblastine, in order to depolymerize microtubules and inhibit fast axonal transport, also exhibit diffusional anisotropy (DNMR(parallel)/DNMR(perpendicular) is 2.6 +/- 0.4, 2.8 +/- 0.8, and 2.2 +/- 0.7 for the olfactory, trigeminal, and optic nerves, respectively) thus excluding a significant role for microtubules and fast axonal transport in that observed anisotropy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion
  • Fishes*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Olfactory Nerve / metabolism*
  • Optic Nerve / metabolism*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / metabolism*
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Water