First of all, and just to prove I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, I made a mistake in the previous post: I didn't mean potassium and sodium; I should have said calcium -- I woke up at 3 o'clock in the morning realising this, which just goes to show that even my dreams are boring!
Finn, I take what you said as a real compliment, especially coming from someone who obviously has an excellent understanding in this field. And as for your English: I would NEVER have guessed you weren't a native English speaker... I'd always assumed you were an English person living in Finland!
I don't have any specialist knowledge about the nervous system: I just do exactly as you guessed; just take various bits of information about research and piece together the ones that seem to fit. A specialist would probably demolish anything I have to say in a few seconds.
Bob, I think
what the research was getting at was maintenance. As you know, every cell and structure in the body is regularly repaired, maintained and replaced, and in the case of axons the strength, and possibly frequency, of electrical impulses seems to be a crucial signal to the body to continue that maintenance. If those impulses weaken and stop, so will any effort to repair and tissue, (both axons and myelin), will wither away.
Of course, this still doesn't answer the question about which comes first: myelin damage or axonal decay, or indeed what is the root cause of these events, but I suppose if we knew that this website could close down
That was a really good point you made about seeing the whole length of an axon -- a bit like trying to see an entire piece of spaghetti in a plate full of bolognese. It made me think: the discovery that unmyelinated Grey matter axons also die in MS made everyone revise the theory that demyelination was the key factor. But what if those axons are only kept alive by the constant stimulation they are supposed to receive from their myelinated neighbours? Demyelination occurs, this weakens the "please keep me maintained" electrical signal in every axon down the line
, and we see atrophy in both grey and white matter .
I'm just thinking out loud here as I'm writing, and haven't really thought this through, but my head's spinning so I think I'd better go and concentrate on something simple like quantum physics.
Bob, thanks again for the information you sent me: you've definitely got me convinced about helminths!
I think this is the single most intelligent comment I've ever read on here.