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I' ve read that some diseases result in the shrinking of neurons in the brain.

Does the axon shrink or the cell body? And what' s the underlying mechanism that shortens the axons, if that' s the case?

And is it possible that axons shrink even without any diseases?

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  • $\begingroup$ It might be helpful to know which diseases you have in mind, and where you've read about this; personally, I'm curious whether you are referring broadly to degradation of "white matter" or of something more specific and it would help to know what motivated your question. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Oct 24 '16 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ I've read this about alzheimer's disease, but don't know where I read about this. My actual interest is to find out whether axons can shrink and if there is any biological necessity for axons to shrink. $\endgroup$ – Peter123 Nov 2 '16 at 23:44
  • $\begingroup$ Demyelinating disorders like multiple sclerosis cause the insulating myelin around axons to shrink, but that isn't the same as the axon itself shrinking. Alzheimers isn't my area of research but I am aware that damage to the "white matter" is part of the disease - white matter consists of axons and their myelin, but my understanding is that white matter degradation in Alzheimers is due to loss of fibers, not shrinking of the individual axons. It's possible this is what you read but without a citation I don't know for sure. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Nov 3 '16 at 17:10

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