In addition to their role in providing myelin for rapid impulse propagation, the glia that ensheath long axons are required for the maintenance of normal axon transport and long-term survival. This presumably ancestral function seems to be independent of myelin membrane wrapping. Here, I propose that ensheathing glia provide trophic support to axons that are metabolically isolated, and that myelin itself might cause such isolation. This glial support of axonal integrity may be relevant for a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases.
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