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By Eduard Pernkopf

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The incoming neuron at the synaptic contact is called presynaptic (Fig. 24), and the neuron to which the activity is transmitted is postsynaptic. The majority of presynaptic fibres forming the synapses are unmyelinated axon branches. Lm from the synaptic knob. Depending on which cellular components are involved, synapses can be divided into axosomatic (an axon terminal contacting a cell body), axodendritic (axon terminal in contact with a dendrite), axoaxonic (two axon terminals in contact) or dendrodendritic (contacts between two dendrites) (Fig.

E. the presence of vesicles indicates that this side is presynaptic. A striking feature of the presynaptic membrane is the presence of diffusely outlined dense patches which protrude from the membrane into the cytoplasm of the synaptic knob. These local thickenings are usually known as presynaptic projections. In sections parallel to the synaptic cleft of synapses in the central nervous system, it can be seen that they are arranged in a regular pattern forming what has been called the 'presynaptic vesicular grid' Schematic representation of formation and transport of vesicles from soma to terminal.

Various hypotheses have been suggested to account for the retrograde degenerative changes in the cell body. The most likely explanation appears to be that transection of the fibre deprives the cell body of some signal substance which is normally carried by retrograde transport from the endings and serves to control the protein synthesis of the cell. The first indication of degeneration in the part of the nerve distal to the place of transection, which usually appears within 12 hours, is a swelling of the axon.

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