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the lipid substance forming a sheath (the myelin sheath) around the axons of certain nerve fibers; it is an electrical insulator that serves to speed the conduction of nerve impulses in these nerve fibers, which are called myelinated or medullated fibers. adj., adj myelin´ic. 

Myelinated nerve fibers occur predominantly in the cranial and spinal nerves and compose the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. Unmyelinated fibers are abundant in the autonomic nervous system. The term gray matter refers to areas in the nervous system in which the nerve fibers are unmyelinated. In unmyelinated nerves impulses are conducted by the propagation of the action potential along the membrane of the axon. In myelinated nerves impulses are transmitted by an entirely different process, called saltatory conduction, in which the impulse jumps from one node of ranvier to the next. Impulses in myelinated nerves are transmitted hundreds of times faster and require much less energy than in unmyelinated nerves.
Structure of a typical myelin sheath. From Applegate, 2000.


1. The lipoproteinaceous material, composed of regularly alternating membranes of lipid lamellae (for example, cholesterol, phospholipids, sphingolipids, and phosphatidates) and protein, of the myelin sheath.
2. Droplets of lipid formed during autolysis and postmortem decomposition.


(mī′ə-lĭn) also


(-lĭn, -lēn′)
A white fatty material, composed chiefly of lipids and lipoproteins, that encloses certain axons and nerve fibers. Also called medulla.

my′e·lin′ic adj.


1. The lipoproteinaceous material of the myelin sheath, composed of alternating membranes of lipid and protein.
2. Droplets of lipid formed during autolysis and postmortem decomposition.


The fatty, white material forming a sheath around most nerve fibres and acting as an insulator. See also DEMYELINATION.


a white phospholipid. See MYELIN SHEATH.


A whitish fatty substance that acts like an electrical insulator around certain nerves in the peripheral nervous system. It is thought that the loss of the myelin surrounding the vestibular nerves may influence the development of Ménière's disease.


Lipoproteinaceous material, composed of regularly alternating membranes of lipid lamellae (e.g., cholesterol, phospholipids, sphingolipids, and phosphatidates) and protein, of the myelin sheath.

Patient discussion about myelin

Q. What is Myelin?

A. As part of the nervous system, myelin lines nerve fibers to protect and insulate neurons. Myelin aids in the quick and accurate transmission of electrical current carrying data from one nerve cell to the next. When myelin becomes damaged, the process involves numerous health conditions, including multiple sclerosis.

Dysfunction in the myelin of nerve fibers causes the interruption of smooth delivery of information. Either nerve impulses can be slowed, such that we can't pull our hand away in time to avoid being burned, or mixed up, so we aren't able to determine if a pan is hot in the first place. This is akin to a pet chewing on a wire, causing the device to dysfunction. When problems arise in nerves of the PNS, neuropathy might result, and when injury affects the nerves of the CNS, multiple sclerosis is often diagnosed.

More discussions about myelin
References in periodicals archive ?
The team is currently working at identifying the molecular processes that trigger the removal of myelin at the site of injury in the central nervous system.
The researchers grew melanocyte stem cells with neurons isolated from mice that could not make myelin. They discovered that these stem cells behaved like a glial cell under these conditions.
The results suggested that bacteria in the gut may trigger the immune response that causes the deterioration of myelin (demyelination).
Myelin is a critical component of a functioning central nervous system.
Once thought of as solely a passive insulator, myelin alteration is now known to be actively involved in the function and development of the CNS (see review [19]).
The cells needed to repair myelin already exist in the central nervous system.
To identify the DCUN1D2-positive regions, two markers were used: MAG to label the myelin paranodes and [Na.sup.+] channels for the nodes of Ranvier.
Based in Boston, Myelin is comprised of five companies.
Studying interactions among oligodendrocytes as well as the cells' reactions to various drugs may lead to improved therapies for multiple sclerosis, a disease caused by the destruction of myelin.
Key words: Nerve fiber myelin sheath axon cerebellar white matter; D-galactose INTRODUCTION
Myelin is a fatty substance that insulates the brain's wiring and is a major constituent of 'white matter'.
The grass roots campaign was led by three mothers and advocates affected by ALD, two of whom have lost children to the disease: Patti Chapman of The Myelin Project, Gina Cousineau of Be a Hero Become a Donor Foundation, and Janis Sherwood of Fight ALD.