Saltatory conduction as an electrostatic compressional wave in the axoplasm

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Saltatory conduction is an essential phenomenon to facilitate the fast conduction in myelinated nerves. The conventional conductive models assumed electric circuits with local current along the axonal membrane to explain the nerve conduction in unmyelinated nerves. However, whether such models with local current can be also applied to the saltatory conduction in myelinated nerves is unknown. In this report, I propose a new model of saltatory conduction by focusing on the behavior of electric charges in the axoplasm, not limited to the membrane. In myelinated nerves, because of the large internodal length and the low ion channel density in the internodal segment, the whole cross-section of the internodal axoplasm would contribute to the signal conduction. Because the conducted signals originate from the sodium ion influx through the voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channel at the Ranvier’s nodes, an individual conducted signal can be described as a single electrostatic compressional wave of positive charges in the internodal axoplasm. Based on this model, the total number of NaV channels in one Ranvier’s node would regulate the strength of the wave. Also, the internodal length would be important for the faster conduction in larger myelinated axons. Based on the linear relationships between axonal diameter, internodal length, and conduction velocity, the internodal length would be inversely proportional to the ratio of the transmitted overall wave strength at a Ranvier’s node to the original strength at the proximal adjacent node. This new mathematical model may have wide applicability and usability for the conduction in myelinated nerves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalTohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan 1


  • Electrostatic interactions
  • Internodal length
  • Myelinated nerves
  • Saltatory conduction
  • Voltage-gated sodium channel


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