What is axonal transport?

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Axonal transport refers to a cellular process that involves movement of various substances from one part of the cell to another via the axoplasm.  Various cell parts like the mitochondria, lipids, and proteins are transported through the axon in either antegrade or retrograde directions.  The movement of these components are part of the normal processes of cells in terms of their growth and survival.  Without axonal transport, the various parts of the cell will not receive the necessary components in order for them to function efficiently.

The axon part of cells is typically longer than that of the cell body.  In some cells, the axons could stretch as much as 10,000 longer than the actual body of the cell.  Through this long stretch, various cellular substances, organelles, and components will be transported via the process called axonal transport.  In the case of proteins for example, various parts of the cell need them for various purposes and activities.  Protein transport typically involves movement of other cell components including the mitochondria.  This part of the cell is considered the power source for its various activities.  Cells are able to perform their specific functions with the power supplied by the mitochondria.  Without axonal transport, no proteins will be able to reach various parts of the cell and this simply means that no power source will also be distributed to various parts to supply energy requirements for various processes.

It is also through axonal transport that neurotransmitters are transported inside cells.  These neurotransmitters basically contain instructions for various cellular parts in the body.  Some of them provide excitation to various receptors of the other cells in the body.  There are also neurotransmitters that produce inhibition to designated cell parts. When these kinds of neurotransmitters are released, they must pass through the axon by way of axonal transport before they reach their destination.

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