The eighth cranial nerve ganglion consists of bipolar nerve cell bodies each occupying part of an internodal segment. The perikaryal sheaths range from a single layer of Schwann cell cytoplasm on the smallest cells to typical thick compact myelin on the largest. On most perikarya, the sheath displays an intermediate form, consisting of multiple layers of Schwann cell cytoplasm (loose myelin), or of loose and compact myelin continuous with each other. Internodes beyond the one containing the cell body bear only compact myelin. In loose myelin the thickness of each layer of Schwann cell cytoplasm is about 100 A. It may be much greater (∼ 3000 A) particularly in the outermost layers of the sheath, or the cytoplasm may thin and even disappear with formation of a major dense line. The cytoplasmic layers are separated from each other by a light zone, 40 to 200 A wide, which in its broader portions may contain an intermediate line. Desmosomes sometimes occur between lamellae. In addition to the usual organelles, the perikaryal cytoplasm contains granular and membranous inclusions. Large cells covered by compact myelin have a consistently higher concentration of neurofilaments, and some of the largest cells, in addition, show a reduced concentration of ribosomes. The functional significance and possible origins of perikaryal myelin sheaths are discussed.

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