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Definition

Myelin is an insulating layer, or sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. It is made up of protein and fatty substances.

This myelin sheath allows electrical impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells. If myelin is damaged, these impulses slow down. This can cause diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Gallery

Myelin and nerve structure
Myelin is the layer that forms around nerves. Its purpose is to speed the transmission of impulses along nerve cells.

References

Calabresi PA. Multiple sclerosis and demyelinating conditions of the central nervous system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 383.

Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 24th ed. F.A. Davis Company; 2021. www.tabers.com/tabersonline. Accessed April 29, 2021.

Last reviewed May 3, 2021 by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

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