Neurofilaments are fibrous organelles that serve as one of the main structural elements of neurons. Synthesized in the perikaryon ,or nerve cell body, neurofilaments are transported along the axon, where they help to maintain the neuronal architecture. Recent research has shown that neurofilaments are biochemically distinct from other kinds of cellular filaments and that they play a special role in the health and functioning of neurons. Although their existence has been recognized for over a century, scientists have only recently started to apply the methods of cellular and molecular biology to the study of neurofilaments, aided by the use of the electron microscope. The study of neurofilaments has raised a number of interesting biological questions with implications for our understanding of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, and neurology. This book is the first to provide, in one place, reports by specialists on the most significant areas of research on these neuronal organelles.
The book opens with a historical background to current research, followed by chapters dealing with the neuronal cytoskeleton; the biochemistry of neurofilaments; neurofilaments of the mammalian peripheral nerve; the functional role of neurofilaments in axonal transport; the metabolism of neurofilaments; experimental models of abnormal neurofilamentous pathology; and the relation of these abnormal structures to Alzheimer’s disease. Editor Charles Marotta’s closing chapter surveys current and future neurofilament research.