10 Differences Between oligodendrocytes and schwann cell

Difference Between Oligodendrocytes and Schwann Cell

Introduction: Oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells are two types of glial cells found in the nervous system. While both play a crucial role in the production and maintenance of myelin, they differ in several aspects. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, examples, uses, and differences between oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells.

What are Oligodendrocytes?

Oligodendrocytes are a type of glial cell that exists in the central nervous system (CNS). They have a unique role in myelination, which is the process of forming myelin sheath around axons. Oligodendrocytes wrap their extensions around multiple axons, covering them with myelin.

Examples of Oligodendrocytes:

1. Interfascicular oligodendrocytes
2. Perineuronal oligodendrocytes
3. Periventricular oligodendrocytes

Uses of Oligodendrocytes:

– Myelination of axons in the CNS.
– Enhancing the conduction of electrical impulses along axons.
– Providing structural support to neurons in the CNS.
– Promoting the overall integrity of the nervous system.

What are Schwann Cells?

Schwann cells, also known as neurilemmocytes, are another type of glial cell found in the peripheral nervous system (PNS). Similar to oligodendrocytes, Schwann cells are responsible for myelination, but they wrap around a single axon.

Examples of Schwann Cells:

1. Myelinating Schwann cells
2. Non-myelinating Schwann cells

Uses of Schwann Cells:

– Myelination of axons in the PNS.
– Assisting in the regeneration of damaged nerves.
– Providing insulation and protection to peripheral axons.
– Supporting nerve regeneration after injury.

Differences Table:

Difference Area Oligodendrocytes Schwann Cells
Location Found in the CNS Found in the PNS
Myelination Each oligodendrocyte forms myelin around multiple axons Each Schwann cell forms myelin around a single axon
Relation to Axons Wraps around axons regardless of their size Wraps around only small-diameter axons (non-myelinating Schwann cells) or large-diameter axons (myelinating Schwann cells)
Nerve Regeneration Less supportive of nerve regeneration Essential for nerve regeneration after injury
Proliferation Olidogendrocytes have limited ability to proliferate Schwann cells have a higher regenerative capacity
Origin Derived from the neural tube Derived from neural crest cells
Distribution Each oligodendrocyte covers multiple axons within a limited area Schwann cells are individually distributed along the entire length of an axon
Associated Diseases Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)
Purpose Primarily for myelination, support, and maintenance in the CNS Primarily for myelination, insulation, and nerve regeneration in the PNS
Structure Cell processes extend to myelinate multiple axons Each Schwann cell wraps around a single axon to form myelin


In conclusion, oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells are distinct types of glial cells found in the CNS and PNS, respectively. Oligodendrocytes myelinate multiple axons in the CNS, while Schwann cells myelinate a single axon in the PNS. Additionally, Schwann cells have a higher potential for nerve regeneration compared to oligodendrocytes.

People Also Ask:

Q1: Can oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells regenerate myelin?
A1: Schwann cells have a higher regenerative capacity, allowing them to regenerate myelin following injury. Oligodendrocytes, on the other hand, have limited regenerative abilities.

Q2: Do oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells have different functions?
A2: Despite both being involved in myelination, oligodendrocytes primarily function in the CNS to support multiple axons, while Schwann cells play a crucial role in the PNS by myelinating and aiding in nerve regeneration.

Q3: What diseases are associated with oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells?
A3: Multiple sclerosis is a disease associated with oligodendrocytes, while Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is associated with Schwann cells.

Q4: Can oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells coexist in the same nerve?
A4: No, oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells do not coexist in the same nerve. Oligodendrocytes are present in the CNS, while Schwann cells are found in the PNS.

Q5: Are oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells essential for proper nervous system function?
A5: Yes, both oligodendrocytes and Schwann cells are crucial for the proper functioning of the nervous system. They provide myelination, support, and insulation to optimize nerve conduction and overall neural integrity.

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