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General physiology of oligodendrocytes
Published on July 31, 2022 25 min
A selection of talks on Neuroscience
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Hello. My name is Arthur Butt. I'm a professor of cellular neurophysiology at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. In this lecture, I will introduce you to the general physiology of oligodendrocytes and their precursors.
The plan of the talk is to first introduce oligodendrocytes white matter and myelin. Then I will go on to describe in more detail, the cell biology of oligodendrocytes and myelin. Importantly, I will emphasize that oligodendrocytes and axons are interdependent functional units. I'll explain the importance of lifelong generation of oligodendrocytes for learning. Finally, I will outline some features of myelin pathology.
Oligodendrocytes are the myelinated cells of the central nervous system. Myelin is the insulating wrapping around axons that enables the rapid conduction of electrical signals. We will look at this more closely in a short while. Oligodendrocytes are found exclusively in the CNS, whereas in the peripheral nervous system, myelination is the function of Schwann Cells. Oligodendrocytes were first described by the famous Spanish anatomist, Pio del Rio Hortega. He named them from the Greek for a cell, cycte with few oligo processes dendro. I.e. oligo dendro cyte. This is illustrated in the figure which shows an individual oligodendrocyte with a central cell body that extends a small number of connective processes to support multiple myelin sheaths. These myelin segments terminate at nodes of Ranvier as indicated. The scale bar is ten microns, indicating the small size of the oligodendrocyte cell body and the long length of the myelin sheaths all over 100 microns for each internodal myelin segment.