A nano-mechanical characterization of a multi-layered myelin sheath structure, which enfolds an axon and plays a critical role in the transmission of nerve impulses, is conducted. Schwann cells co-cultured in vitro with PC12 cells for various co-culture times are differentiated to form a myelinated axon, which is then observed using a transmission electron microscope. Three major myelination stages, with distinct structural characteristics and thicknesses around the axon, can be produced by varying the co-culture time. A dynamic contact module and continuous depth-sensing nano-indentation are used on the myelinated structure to obtain the load-on-sample versus measured displacement curve of a multi-layered myelin sheath, which is used to determine the work required for the nano-indentation tip to penetrate the myelin sheath. By analyzing the harmonic contact stiffness versus the measured displacement profile, the results can be used to estimate the three stages of the multi-layered structure on a myelinated axon. The method can also be used to evaluate the development stages of myelination or demyelination during nerve regeneration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering