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The effects of botulinum neurotoxin A induced muscle paresis during a critical period upon muscle and spinal cord development in the rat

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gavin ClowryORCiD, Dr Lauren WalkerORCiD


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The second postnatal week is a critical period in rat motor development. The expansion of corticospinal innervation coincides with elimination of polyneuronal innervation of muscles, onset of quadrupedal locomotion and refinement of muscle afferent input to the ventral horn. Such developmental events are believed to be activity-dependent. In the present study, muscle afferent activity was temporarily reduced by injecting distal forelimb muscles with botulinum toxin A (BTX). Injections of toxin or saline were made unilaterally on postnatal day (P) 7 which in BTXtreated animals lead to a profound loss of movement in the affected limb over the next week before function returned. The neural tracer cholera toxin B (CTB) was injected into the extensor digitorum communis (EDC) at either P14 or P28. Allowing 3 days for tracer transport, the spinal cords were sectioned and immunostained for CTB and cJun. In separate experiments, behavioural testing of the forelimb was carried out between P35 and P49. Then, sections of EDC muscle were immunostained for slow myosin. An increased density of ventral horn muscle afferent boutons was observed at P 17 in BTX-treated animals compared to controls, however, by P31, this difference was not significant. However, CTB labelling also revealed significantly increased motor axon terminals in the ventral Renshaw cell region in BTX-treated animals at P31, accompanied by raised expression of cJun in ipsilateral motoneurones. BTX-treated animals showed deficits in ladder walking, and their muscles contained a higher density and significantly more clustering of slow myosin expressing muscle fibres than controls. Temporary reduction in activity did not significantly alter muscle afferent development, but temporary blockade of neuromuscular junctions did affect both muscle and motor axon, in the longer term. (C) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clowry GJ, Walker L, Davies P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Experimental Neurology

Year: 2006

Volume: 202

Issue: 2

Pages: 456-469

ISSN (print): 0014-4886

ISSN (electronic): 1090-2430

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2006.07.008


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