Myelin sheath development and nutrition: Jumping is faster than sliding

As discussed in class prenatal and infant nutrition is crucial in the development of the nervous system. Devastating diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis can result from defects in the brain. Disruptions or inefficient communication within neurons can cause serious health issues. Malnutrition during critical stages of brain development can lead to demyelination which can lead to disruption in neuron transmission.

 Myelin Sheath

As seen in this illustration from Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner Myelin sheath doesn’t cover the entire length of the Axon, it leaves gaps which are called Nodes of Ranier. Neuron impulses jump from node to node. Myelin does more than insulating the Axon, it speeds up communication. Jumping is faster than sliding.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a number of university studies done on rats, indicate the effect of malnutrition on the synthesis of a Myelin lipid:

“Nutritional deprivation during the early life of the rat is associated with a decreased synthesis of sulfatide, as determined by both in vivo and in vitro methods.

The decreased synthesis of sulfatide after a period of poor nutrition is not corrected by refeeding.

These results indicate that the time of active myelin formation is a vulnerable period for the developing nervous system.”

Myelin sheath is made up of glial cells. As mentioned in the lecture, intake of whole milk and “good” fats during pregnancy and in infants, in addition to other environmental precautions, can provide enough nutrition during the critical stages for the development of the nervous system and for these cells to grow.

Eat well,
Behzad Moaddeli

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~ by Behzad on September 5, 2009.

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