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To understand traumas to the nervous system, the relation between mechanical load and functional impairment needs to be explained. Cellular-level computational models are being used to capture the mechanism behind mechanically-induced injuries and possibly predict these events. However, uncertainties in the material properties used in computational models undermine the validity of their predictions. For this reason, in this study the squid giant axon was used as a model to provide a description of the axonal mechanical behavior in a large strain and high strain rate regime [Formula: see text], which is relevant for injury investigations. More importantly, squid giant axon membrane sheaths were isolated and tested under dynamic uniaxial tension and relaxation. From the lumen outward, the membrane sheath presents: an axolemma, a layer of Schwann cells followed by the basement membrane and a prominent layer of loose connective tissue consisting of fibroblasts and collagen. Our results highlight the load-bearing role of this enwrapping structure and provide a constitutive description that could in turn be used in computational models. Furthermore, tests performed on collagen-depleted membrane sheaths reveal both the substantial contribution of the endoneurium to the total sheath's response and an interesting increase in material nonlinearity when the collagen in this connective layer is digested. All in all, our results provide useful insights for modelling the axonal mechanical response and in turn will lead to a better understanding of the relationship between mechanical insult and electrophysiological outcome.


Annaclaudia Montanino, Astrid Deryckere, Nele Famaey, Eve Seuntjens, Svein Kleiven. Mechanical characterization of squid giant axon membrane sheath and influence of the collagenous endoneurium on its properties. Scientific reports. 2019 Jun 20;9(1):8969

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PMID: 31222074

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