Effects of electrical stimulation on neuromuscular junction morphology in the aging rat tongue
Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53792, USA.
Alterations in neuromuscular junction (NMJ) structure in cranial muscles may contribute to age-related deficits in critical sensorimotor actions such as swallowing. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) is used in swallowing therapy, but it is unclear how NMJ structure is affected or if NMJ morphology is best measured in two or three dimensions. Two- and three-dimensional measurements of NMJ morphology in the genioglossus muscle were compared in rats that had undergone 8 weeks of hypoglossal nerve stimulation vs. untreated controls. The relationship between motor endplate volume and nerve terminal volume had a mean positive slope in 90% of the young adult controls, but it was positive in only 50% of the old controls; 89% of NMES old rats had a positive slope. NMJ measurements were more accurate when measured in three dimensions. In the NMJ, aging and NMES are associated with changes in the pre- and post-synaptic relationship.
Muscle Nerve. 2011 Feb;43(2):203-11.