Node of Ranvier

Dhristi NEET 2022-24

Define Nodes of Ranvier

As per the Nodes of Ranvier definition, it is often recognized as myelin-sheath holes, which arise where the axolemma is revealed to the extracellular space along a myelinated axon. Ranvier nodes tend to be uninsulated and have a high concentration of ion channels, permitting them to engage in the ion exchange which is needed to regenerate the action potential.

Since the action potential appears to "jump" from one node to another along the axon, nerve conduction through myelinated axons is termed as saltatory conduction (derived from the Latin saltare meaning "to jump or leap"). As a consequence, the action potential conducts more quickly.

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In 1854, German pathological anatomist Rudolf Virchow recognized and named the myelin sheath of long nerves. Louis-Antoine Ranvier, a French pathologist and anatomist, was the first to identify the nodes, or holes, in the myelin sheath, which now carry the name. Ranvier had been a famous late-nineteenth-century histologist who was established in Lyon. In 1867, Ranvier left pathology to work as a consultant to physiologist Claude Bernard. In 1875, he became the chairman of the Collège de France's Department of General Anatomy.

His research on both damaged and normal nerve fibres, as well as his advanced histological techniques, were world-renowned. At the Salpêtrière, his findings on fibre nodes as well as the degeneration and regeneration of cut fibres had a major impact on Parisian neurology. Eventually after, he found holes in nerve fibre sheaths that became known as the Nodes of Ranvier. Ranvier used this observation to conduct a thorough histological study of myelin sheaths and Schwann cells.


The myelin segments are called internodes, and also the gaps between them are called nodes. The size, positioning and distance of the internodes differ in a curvilinear relationship with the fibre diameter, which is designed for maximum conduction velocity. Based on the axon diameter and fibre type, nodes could be 1-2ηm long, while internodes could be close to (and sometimes even more than)1.5 millimetres long.

Below the compact myelin sheath, the arrangement of the node and flanking paranodal regions differs from that of the internodes, however, they are very identical in the CNS and PNS. At the node, the axon is introduced to the extracellular atmosphere and it has its diameter reduced. The smaller axon size is due to a greater concentration of neurofilaments throughout this region, that are somewhat heavily phosphorylated and take longer for transportation. Vesicles as well as other organelles are however increased at the nodes, implying that axonal transport across both directions, and also local axonal-glial signalling, are bottlenecked.

Differences in the Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems: While freeze fracture research has demonstrated that perhaps the nodal axolemma in the CNS and PNS is concentrated in intramembranous particles (IMPs) when compared with the internode, there have been some structural differences which represent their cellular constituents. Specified microvilli project out from the external collar of Schwann cells and approach the nodal axolemma of broad fibres in the PNS.

Composition: Ranvier Na+/Ca2+ exchanger nodes and a dense population of voltage-gated Na+ channels which produce action potentials. A sodium channel is made up of two accessory β subunits and a pore-forming subunit that anchors the channel to extracellular and intracellular components. The αNaV1.6 and β1 subunits make up the majority of Ranvier nodes in the central nervous systems and peripheral nervous systems. Subunits' extracellular regions may interact with several other proteins including tenascin R and the cell-adhesion molecules neurofascin and contactin. Contactin is however found at nodes in the CNS, and therefore its interaction with Na+ channels improves their surface expression.

Molecular Organization: The nodes' molecular structure reflects the specialised role in impulse propagation. The amount of IMPs relates to sodium channels, based on the number of sodium channels present there in the node versus the internode. Potassium channels are almost non-existent in the nodal axolemma, but abundant in the Schwann cell membranes and paranodal axolemma there at nodes. Although the precise function of potassium channels is unknown, it is believed that myelin sheath and nodes of Ranvier can aid in rapid repolarization of action potentials or play a critical role in buffering potassium ions at nodes. In comparison to their diffuse spread in unmyelinated fibres, potassium and voltage-gated sodium channels have a strongly asymmetric distribution.

Node of Ranvier Function in Neuron:

Below mentioned are the nodes of Ranvier function:-

Action Potential: 

A pulse of both positive and negative ionic discharge passes through a cell's membrane as an action potential. The nervous system's ability to communicate is based on the formation and transfer of action potentials. Action potentials, one of the purposes of nodes of Ranvier, are voltage reversals that occur quickly through the plasma membrane of axons. Voltage-gated ion channels throughout the plasma membrane are responsible for such rapid reversals. Although the action potential flows from one cell to the next, ion flow all across the membrane occurs just at the node of Ranvier.

As a consequence, instead of propagating smoothly like in axons without neuron nodes of Ranvier, the action potential signal leaps from node to node across the axon. This behaviour is allowed by the clustering of potassium ion and voltage-gated sodium channels at the nodes.

Saltatory Conduction: 

Because an axon could either be unmyelinated or myelinated, the action potential may pass down the axon in one of two ways. Saltatory conduction for myelinated axons and  Continuous conduction for unmyelinated axons are the terms used to describe these processes. An action potential travelling in distinct hops down a myelinated axon is known as saltatory conduction. This method is known as the charge spreading passively towards the next Ranvier node to depolarize these to a threshold, which will then cause an action potential throughout this area, which will then spread passively to another node, and on and on.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why is Saltatory Conduction More Rapid?

Ans. Electrical signals migrate quicker along myelin-insulated axons. Action potentials going to axon terminal "jump" from node to node. It is known as saltatory conduction, which translates to "to jump." Travelling down an axon through saltatory conduction is faster than travelling through an axon without myelin.

2. What are the Advantages of Using Saltatory Conduction?

Ans. Conduction which happens across an axon lacking myelin sheaths has two main advantages over saltatory conduction. Firstly, it conserves energy by reducing the axonal membrane's usage of sodium-potassium pumps. Second, because of the greater pace provided by this mode of conduction, the organism is able to respond and think more quickly.