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Nerve Cell and Its Functions in Human Body

The nerve cell is a eukaryotic cell found in the central nervous system of the body. It is the cell through which nerve impulses from different body parts are transmitted to and from specific cells to facilitate the body’s functioning. These impulses are sent in the form of nervous signals for specific actions to take place. The neuron comprises unique features unlike other cells, the axon, the cell body, and the dendrite.

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The cell body accommodates the nucleus and is the primary metabolic center for the entire cell (Gautam 02). It makes sure the cell functions correctly by providing energy and maintaining its structure with the help of the different organelles it harbors, such as the mitochondria, ribosomes, and lysosomes. The cytoplasm is found abundantly in the cell body. It contains a gel formed by microtubules and proteins essential for making the cytoskeleton.

The axon conducts nerve impulses generated from the plasma membrane away from the dendrites to other neurons. However, the axon does not have cell organelles; instead, it has microtubules, and insulating structures called the myelin sheath. This myelin sheath insulates the plasmalemma and elevates the speed through which impulses are conducted in the axon. Dendrites, on the other hand, receive nervous impulses from axons of other neurons (Sakmann). They have dendritic spines containing most organelles found in the body, especially the cytoplasm and neurofilaments that contribute to the shape of the dendrites (Cazé 2512). However, some organelles are present depending on the dendrite’s size, which brings about variation in the quantity of reception and procession of electric impulses.

The nerve cell is a typical eukaryotic cell containing most of the cell components. However, the most abundant constituent is the cytoplasm, which carries neurotransmitters and proteins essential for neurotransmitters’ production. Neurons can also be susceptible to pathogens such as Escherichia Coli, which causes meningitis when it comes into contact with the cell’s synapses. Viruses such as the alphaherpesvirus can also harm the nerve cell, causing infections in the central nervous system.

Works cited

Cazé, Romain D et al. “Dendrites Enable a Robust Mechanism for Neuronal Stimulus Selectivity.” Neural Computation vol. 29, no. 9, 2017, pp. 2511-2527

Gautam, Akash. “Nerve Cells.” Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior, 2017

Sakmann, Bert. “From single cells and single columns to cortical networks: dendritic excitability, coincidence detection and synaptic transmission in brain slices and brains.” Experimental physiology vol. 102, no. 5, 2017, pp. 489-521.

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