Dendrites vs. Axon

Main Difference

Both axon and dendrites are a part of neuron which is found in the nervous system. But they do have some contrasting characters. The main difference between an axon and a dendrite is, dendrites receive messages from other cells while axons passes messages from the cell body to other neurons, muscles or glands. Dendrites are short branched process while axon is one long process.


dendritesDendrites are numerous, multiple processes of short length, the branches are studded with spiny projections. The thickness of dendrite reduces as they divide. They carry signals from pre-synaptic cell to the cell body. They determine the extent of action potential produced by the neuron. They transmit electrical impulse by the upstream neurons via synapses.


axonAxon is a long process which forms a prolongation called axon hillock. The cytoplasm of axon is called axoplasm and it is capable of carrying the impulse away from the cell body. Moreover, axons form presynaptic terminal where the neurotransmitters are released and they send signals to other neurons. They carry signals towards the post synaptic cell. They do contain neurofibrils but not Nissl’s granules.

Key Differences

  • A single axon is present in a neuron but multiple dendrites are there in one neuron.
  • Axons are very long while dendrites are short.
  • Axons are of uniform diameter but the diameter of dendrites in not uniform.
  • Axon arises from axon hillock while dendrites arise directly from the receiving surface of neurons.
  • Axon is branches at the distal end only.
  • Terminal branches of axon tend to form synaptic knobs.
  • In these knobs, the axons have neurotransmitter secreting vesicles.
  • Axon forms efferent component of impulse and dendrite forms afferent component of impulse.
  • Axons do not contain Nissl’s granules. Dendrites contain Nissl’s granules.

Video Explanation

Leave a Comment