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Attenuation of age-related changes in mouse neuromuscular synapses by caloric restriction and exercise.Valdez G, Tapia JC, ..., Lichtman JW, Sanes JR. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Aug 17; 107(33):14863-8

Evaluated by | Kevin Conley, University of Washington, United States of America


Keeping connected in old age: improvements in the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) with exercise in aged muscle of the rat.

Denervation is thought to underlie the loss of muscle function and eventual muscle wasting with old age {1}. However, the NMJ has now been found to be an important part of this process. Valdez et al. show, both in vitro and in vivo, that the NMJ is highly plastic, independent of nerve or muscle fiber properties. A significant factor affecting the decrease of pre- and post-synaptic abnormalities in 24mo rats was lifelong calorie restriction and exercise. But it was acute exercise treatment in old rats that revealed the independence of the connection itself by reversing NMJ alterations without improving either motor neuron or muscle fiber numbers. These results indicate that loss of neural connections leading to muscle wasting may be as much a function of the NMJ as the nerve itself. The exciting result is that these age-related changes in the NMJ not only can be slowed but also reversed, thereby maintaining connections that would otherwise be lost in old age.

{1} Jang and Van Remmen, Exp Gerontol 2010, Sep 18, Epub ahead of print [PMID:20854887]

Evaluated 20 Jan 2011