Direct evidence has been presented to confirm the existence of a spiral in the myelin sheaths of the central nervous system. An account of some of the variations in structure of central myelin sheaths has been given and it has been shown that the radial component of myelin sheaths has the form of a series of rod-like thickenings of the intraperiod line. These thickenings extend along the intraperiod line in a direction parallel to the length of the axon. The relative position of the internal mesaxon and external tongue of cytoplasm has been determined in a number of transverse sections of sheaths from the optic nerves of adult mice, adult rats, and young rats. In about 75 per cent of the mature sheaths examined, these two structures were found within the same quadrant of the sheath, so that the cytoplasm of the external tongue process tends to lie directly outside that associated with the internal mesaxon. The frequency with which the internal mesaxon and external tongue lie within the same quadrant of the sheath increases both with the age of the animal and with the number of lamellae present within a sheath. The possible significance of these findings is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.