Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary A morphometric study was performed on sural nerves from human fetuses at 15 to 36 weeks postovulation. There were no myelinated fibres at 15 and 16 weeks, but by 21 weeks there were 5,000/mm2, rising to 25,000/mm2 at 36 weeks. During the fetal period, the mean myelin lamellar count trebled and the g ratio (axon diameter: total fibre diameter) decreased from 0.90 to 0.75, although the axon diameter of myelinated fibres did not increase. The smallest myelinated axon diameter was 0.63 μm, whereas the largest unmyelinated axon in a 1:1 relationship with a Schwann cell was 2.83 μm, suggesting that axon size is unlikely to be the only stimulus for myelination. The density of unmyelinated axons that were the sole occupants of a Schwann cell fell considerably between 23 and 33 weeks, while the ratio of total unmyelinated axons to myelinated fibres decreased from 82:1 at 21 weeks to 6:1 at 36 weeks. Data for Schwann cell nuclear density and percentages of fibres cut through the nucleus are also presented.
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