Clusters of axonal Na+ channels adjacent to remyelinating Schwann cells

J Neurocytol. 1996 Jun;25(6):403-12. doi: 10.1007/BF02284811.


Rat sciatic nerve fibres were demyelinated by injection of lysolecithin and examined at several stages as Schwann cells proliferated, adhered, and initiated remyelination. Immunoperoxidase EM has been used to follow the clustering of Na+ channels that represents an early step in the formation of new nodes of Ranvier. At the peak of demyelination, 1 week post-injection, only isolated sites, suggestive of the original nodes, were labelled. As Schwann cells adhered and extended processes along the axons, regions of axonal Na+ channel immunoreactivity were often found just beyond their leading edges. These channel aggregates were associated only with the axolemma and Na+ channels were not detected on glial membranes. Sites with more than one cluster in close proximity and broadly labelled aggregates between Schwann cells suggested that new nodes of Ranvier formed as neighbouring Na+ channel groups merged. Schwann cells thus seem to play a major role in ion channel distributions in the axolemma. In all of these stages Na+ channel label was found primarily just outside the region of close contact between axon and Schwann cell. This suggests that Schwann cell adherence acts in part to exclude Na+ channels, or that diffusible substances are involved and can act some distance from regions of direct contact.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Demyelinating Diseases / chemically induced
  • Demyelinating Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lysophosphatidylcholines / pharmacology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Schwann Cells / cytology
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*
  • Sciatic Nerve / drug effects
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism*


  • Lysophosphatidylcholines
  • Sodium Channels