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Age-related changes in the structure and function of mammalian neuromuscular junctions

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Clarke Slater


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As mammals age, their neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) change their form, with an increasingly complex system of axonal branches innervating increasingly fragmented regions of postsynaptic differentiation. It has been suggested that this remodeling is associated with impairment of neuromuscular transmission and that this contributes to age-related muscle weakness in mammals, including humans. Here, we review previous work on NMJ aging, most of which has focused on either structure or function, as well as a new study aimed at seeking correlation between the structure and function of individual NMJs. While it is clear that extensive structural changes occur as part of the aging process, it is much less certain how, if at all, these are correlated with an impairment of function. This leaves open the question of whether loss of NMJ function is a significant cause of age-related muscle weakness.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Willadt S, Nash M, Slater CR

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

Year: 2018

Volume: 1412

Issue: 1

Pages: 41-53

Print publication date: 01/01/2018

Online publication date: 31/12/2017

Acceptance date: 12/09/2017

ISSN (print): 0077-8923

ISSN (electronic): 1749-6632


DOI: 10.1111/nyas.13521