Last updated
Diagram of longitudinal sections of medullated nerve fibers.
Myelin sheath (1).svg
Cross section of an axon.

1. Axon
2. Nucleus of Schwann cell
3. Schwann cell
4. Myelin sheath

5. Neurolemma
System Peripheral nervous system
Location Schwann cell
MeSH D009441
TH H2.
Anatomical terms of microanatomy

Neurolemma (also known as neurolemma, sheath of Schwann, or Schwann's sheath) [1] is the outermost nucleated cytoplasmic layer of Schwann cells (also called neurilemmocytes) that surrounds the axon of the neuron. It forms the outermost layer of the nerve fiber in the peripheral nervous system. [2]

The neurolemma is underlain by the myelin sheath (referred to as the medullary sheath in the included illustrations). In the central nervous system, axons are myelinated by oligodendrocytes, thus lack neurolemma. The myelin sheaths of Oligodendrocytes do not have neurolemma because excess cytoplasm is directed centrally toward the oligodendrocyte cell body.

Neurolemma serves a protective function for peripheral nerve fibers. Damaged nerve fibers may regenerate if the cell body is not damaged and the neurolemma remains intact. The neurolemma forms a regeneration tube through which the growing axon re-establishes its original connection.

A neurolemoma is a tumor of the neurilemma. [1]

Related Research Articles

Axon Long projection on a neuron that conducts signals away

An axon, or nerve fiber, is a long, slender projection of a nerve cell, or neuron, in vertebrates, that typically conducts electrical impulses known as action potentials away from the nerve cell body. The function of the axon is to transmit information to different neurons, muscles, and glands. In certain sensory neurons, such as those for touch and warmth, the axons are called afferent nerve fibers and the electrical impulse travels along these from the periphery to the cell body, and from the cell body to the spinal cord along another branch of the same axon. Axon dysfunction has caused many inherited and acquired neurological disorders which can affect both the peripheral and central neurons. Nerve fibers are classed into three types – group A nerve fibers, group B nerve fibers, and group C nerve fibers. Groups A and B are myelinated, and group C are unmyelinated. These groups include both sensory fibers and motor fibers. Another classification groups only the sensory fibers as Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type IV.

Central nervous system Brain and spinal cord

The central nervous system (CNS) is the part of the nervous system consisting primarily of the brain and spinal cord. The CNS is so named because it integrates the received information and coordinates and influences the activity of all parts of the bodies of bilaterally symmetric animals—i.e., all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish—and it contains the majority of the nervous system. The CNS also includes the retina and the optic nerve, as well as the olfactory nerves and olfactory epithelium as parts of the CNS, synapsing directly on brain tissue without intermediate ganglia. As such, the olfactory epithelium is the only central nervous tissue in direct contact with the environment, which opens up for therapeutic treatments. The CNS is contained within the dorsal body cavity, with the brain housed in the cranial cavity and the spinal cord in the spinal canal. In vertebrates, the brain is protected by the skull, while the spinal cord is protected by the vertebrae. The brain and spinal cord are both enclosed in the meninges. Within the CNS, the interneuronal space is filled with a large amount of supporting non-nervous cells called neuroglia or glia from the Greek for "glue".

Myelin Fatty substance that surrounds nerve cell axons to insulate them and increase transmission speed

Myelin is a lipid-rich (fatty) substance that surrounds nerve cell axons to insulate them and increase the rate at which electrical impulses are passed along the axon. The myelinated axon can be likened to an electrical wire with insulating material (myelin) around it. However, unlike the plastic covering on an electrical wire, myelin does not form a single long sheath over the entire length of the axon. Rather, each myelin sheath insulates the axon over a single long section and, in general, each axon comprises multiple long myelinated sections separated from each other by short gaps called nodes of Ranvier.

Nerve enclosed, cable-like bundle of axons in the peripheral nervous system

A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of nerve fibres called axons, in the peripheral nervous system. A nerve transmits electrical impulses and is the basic unit of the peripheral nervous system. A nerve provides a common pathway for the electrochemical nerve impulses called action potentials that are transmitted along each of the axons to peripheral organs or, in the case of sensory nerves, from the periphery back to the central nervous system. Each axon within the nerve is an extension of an individual neuron, along with other supportive cells such as some Schwann cells that coat the axons in myelin.

Optic nerve paired nerve that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain

The optic nerve, also known as cranial nerve II, or simply as CN II, is a paired cranial nerve that transmits visual information from the retina to the brain. In humans, the optic nerve is derived from optic stalks during the seventh week of development and is composed of retinal ganglion cell axons and glial cells; it extends from the optic disc to the optic chiasma and continues as the optic tract to the lateral geniculate nucleus, pretectal nuclei, and superior colliculus.

Schwann cell

Schwann cells or neurolemmocytes are the principal glia of the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Glial cells function to support neurons and in the PNS, also include satellite cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, enteric glia and glia that reside at sensory nerve endings, such as the Pacinian corpuscle. The two types of Schwann cells are myelinating and nonmyelinating. Myelinating Schwann cells wrap around axons of motor and sensory neurons to form the myelin sheath. The Schwann cell promoter is present in the downstream region of the human dystrophin gene that gives shortened transcript that are again synthesized in a tissue-specific manner.

Nervous tissue Main component of the nervous system

Nervous tissue, also called neural tissue, is the main tissue component of the nervous system. The nervous system regulates and controls bodily functions and activity and consists of two parts: the central nervous system (CNS) comprising the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) comprising the branching peripheral nerves. It is composed of neurons, also known as nerve cells, which receive and transmit impulses, and neuroglia, also known as glial cells or glia, which assist the propagation of the nerve impulse as well as provide nutrients to the neurons.

Motor nerve

A motor nerve is a nerve located in the central nervous system (CNS), usually the spinal cord, that sends motor signals from the CNS to the muscles of the body. This is different from the motor neuron, which includes a cell body and branching of dendrites, while the nerve is made up of a bundle of axons. Motor nerves act as efferent nerves which carry information out from the CNS, as opposed to afferent nerves, which send signals from sensory receptors in the periphery to the CNS. There are also nerves that serve as both sensory and motor nerves called mixed nerves.

Oligodendrocyte Neural cell type

Oligodendrocytes, or oligodendroglia, are a type of neuroglia whose main functions are to provide support and insulation to axons in the central nervous system of some vertebrates, equivalent to the function performed by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. Oligodendrocytes do this by creating the myelin sheath. A single oligodendrocyte can extend its processes to 50 axons, wrapping approximately 1 μm of myelin sheath around each axon; Schwann cells, on the other hand, can wrap around only one axon. Each oligodendrocyte forms one segment of myelin for several adjacent axons.

Glia Support cells in the nervous system

Glia, also called glial cells or neuroglia, are non-neuronal cells in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system that do not produce electrical impulses. They maintain homeostasis, form myelin, and provide support and protection for neurons. In the central nervous system, glial cells include oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, ependymal cells, and microglia, and in the peripheral nervous system glial cells include Schwann cells and satellite cells. They have four main functions: (1) to surround neurons and hold them in place; (2) to supply nutrients and oxygen to neurons; (3) to insulate one neuron from another; (4) to destroy pathogens and remove dead neurons. They also play a role in neurotransmission and synaptic connections, and in physiological processes like breathing. While glia were thought to outnumber neurons by a ratio of 10:1, a recent study provides evidence for a ratio of less than 1:1.

Node of Ranvier axon part that is a gap in the myelin where voltage-gated sodium channels cluster and saltatory conduction is executed.

Nodes of Ranvier, also known as myelin-sheath gaps, occur along a myelinated axon where the axolemma is exposed to the extracellular space. Nodes of Ranvier are uninsulated and highly enriched in ion channels, allowing them to participate in the exchange of ions required to regenerate the action potential. Nerve conduction in myelinated axons is referred to as saltatory conduction due to the manner in which the action potential seems to "jump" from one node to the next along the axon. This results in faster conduction of the action potential.

Wallerian degeneration process

Wallerian degeneration is an active process of degeneration that results when a nerve fiber is cut or crushed and the part of the axon distal to the injury degenerates. A related process of dying back or retrograde degeneration known as 'Wallerian-like degeneration' occurs in many neurodegenerative diseases, especially those where axonal transport is impaired such as ALS and Alzheimer's disease. Primary culture studies suggest that a failure to deliver sufficient quantities of the essential axonal protein NMNAT2 is a key initiating event.

Axonotmesis is an injury to the peripheral nerve of one of the extremities of the body. The axons and their myelin sheath are damaged in this kind of injury, but the endoneurium, perineurium and epineurium remain intact. Motor and sensory functions distal to the point of injury are completely lost over time leading to Wallerian degeneration due to ischemia, or loss of blood supply. Axonotmesis is usually the result of a more severe crush or contusion than neurapraxia.

Myelin incisure Regions within compact myelin in which the cytoplasmic faces of the enveloping myelin sheath are not tightly juxtaposed, and include cytoplasm from the cell responsible for making the myelin. Schmidt-Lanterman incisures occur in the compact myelin in

Myelin incisures, are small pockets of cytoplasm left behind during the Schwann cell myelination process. They are histological evidence of the small amount of cytoplasm that remains in the inner layer of the myelin sheath created by Schwann cells wrapping tightly around an axon.


The endoneurium is a layer of delicate connective tissue around the myelin sheath of each myelinated nerve fiber in the peripheral nervous system. Its component cells are called endoneurial cells. The endoneuria with their enclosed nerve fibers are bundled into groups called nerve fascicles, each fascicle within its own protective sheath called a perineurium. In sufficiently large nerves multiple fascicles, each with its blood supply and fatty tissue, may be bundled within yet another sheath, the epineurium.

Nerve injury damage to a nerve

Nerve injury is injury to nervous tissue. There is no single classification system that can describe all the many variations of nerve injury. In 1941, Seddon introduced a classification of nerve injuries based on three main types of nerve fiber injury and whether there is continuity of the nerve. Usually, however, (peripheral) nerve injury is classified in five stages, based on the extent of damage to both the nerve and the surrounding connective tissue, since supporting glial cells may be involved. Unlike in the central nervous system, neuroregeneration in the peripheral nervous system is possible. The processes that occur in peripheral regeneration can be divided into the following major events: Wallerian degeneration, axon regeneration/growth, and nerve reinnervation. The events that occur in peripheral regeneration occur with respect to the axis of the nerve injury. The proximal stump refers to the end of the injured neuron that is still attached to the neuron cell body; it is the part that regenerates. The distal stump refers to the end of the injured neuron that is still attached to the end of the axon; it is the part of the neuron that will degenerate but that remains in the area toward which the regenerating axon grows. The study of peripheral nerve injury began during the American Civil War and has greatly expanded to the point of using growth-promoting molecules.

Neuroregeneration refers to the regrowth or repair of nervous tissues, cells or cell products. Such mechanisms may include generation of new neurons, glia, axons, myelin, or synapses. Neuroregeneration differs between the peripheral nervous system (PNS) and the central nervous system (CNS) by the functional mechanisms involved, especially in the extent and speed of repair. When an axon is damaged, the distal segment undergoes Wallerian degeneration, losing its myelin sheath. The proximal segment can either die by apoptosis or undergo the chromatolytic reaction, which is an attempt at repair. In the CNS, synaptic stripping occurs as glial foot processes invade the dead synapse.

Myelinogenesis is generally the proliferation of myelin sheaths in the nervous system, and specifically the progressive myelination of nerve axon fibers in the central nervous system. This is a non-simultaneous process that occurs primarily postnatally in mammalian species, beginning in the embryo during the midst of early development and finishing after birth.

In neurobiology, a mesaxon is a pair of parallel plasma membranes of a Schwann cell, marking the point of edge-to-edge contact by the Schwann cell encircling the axon. A single Schwann cell of the peripheral nervous system will wrap around and support only one individual axon, while the oligodendrocytes found in the central nervous system can wrap around and support 5-8 axons. Thin unmyelinated axons are often bundled, with several unmyelinated axons to a single mesaxon.

Anti-MAG Peripheral Neuropathy is a specific type of peripheral neuropathy in which the person's own immune system attacks cells that are specific in maintaining a healthy nervous system. As these cells are destroyed by antibodies, the nerve cells in the surrounding region begin to lose function and create many problems in both sensory and motor function. Specifically, antibodies against myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) damage Schwann cells. While the disorder occurs in only 10% of those afflicted with peripheral neuropathy, people afflicted have symptoms such as muscle weakness, sensory problems, and other motor deficits usually starting in the form of a tremor of the hands or trouble walking. There are, however, multiple treatments that range from simple exercises in order to build strength to targeted drug treatments that have been shown to improve function in people with this type of peripheral neuropathy.


  1. 1 2 Albert, Daniel (2012). Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary (32nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier. pp. 1262–1263. ISBN   9781416062578.
  2. Elaine N. Marieb; Katja Hoehn (2007). Human Anatomy & Physiology (7th Ed.) . Pearson. pp.  394–5. ISBN   0-8053-5909-5.