An axon fulfils two important tasks:
- First, it is there to transmit the electrical impulses generated in the nerve cell body to the next nerve cell or to the target structure (muscle or gland cell). – In addition, some substances are transported along certain structures through the axon. This process, known as axonal transport, can occur in both directions.
There are various diseases that can affect axons. The most important of these is multiple sclerosis (MS). In this disease demyelination (i.e. loss of myelin sheaths) occurs due to autoimmune processes of unclear cause.
As a result, the conduction velocity of the affected nerve fibre is considerably reduced and the structures controlled by this nerve fibre are restricted or delayed in their function. The disease typically occurs in relapses and is not curable to date.