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Endurance Exercise Modulates Neuromuscular Junction Of C57BL/6NNia Aging Mice

Mohamed A. Fahim
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Fahim, Mohamed A. Endurance exercise modulates neuromuscular junction of C57BL/6NNia aging mice. J. Appl. Physiol. 83(1): 59–66, 1997.—The effect of age and endurance exercise on the physiology and morphology of neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) of gluteus maximus muscle was studied in C57BL/6NNia mice. Mice were exercised, starting at 7 or 25 mo of age, at 28 m/min for 60 min/day, 5 days/wk for 12 wk, on a rodent treadmill. Intracellular recordings of spontaneous miniature endplate potentials (MEPP) and the quantal content of endplate potentials (EPP) were recorded from NMJ of 10- and 28-mo-old control and exercised mice. Endurance exercise resulted in significant increases in MEPP amplitudes (23%), quantal content, and safety margin, and a significant decrease in MEPP frequency of young mice, with no change in resting membrane potential or membrane capacitance. Three months of endurance exercise resulted in an increase in MEPP frequency (41%) and decreases in MEPP amplitudes (15%), quantal content, and safety margin of old mice. Endurance exercise resulted in significantly larger nerve terminals (24%) in young animals, suggesting functional adaptation. Nerve terminals in exercised 28-mo-old mice were smaller than in the corresponding control mice, an indication that exercise minimized age-related nerve terminal elaboration. It is concluded that the different physiological responses of young and old gluteus maximus muscles to endurance exercise parallel their morphological responses. This suggests that the mouse NMJ undergoes a process of physiological and morphological remodeling during aging, and such plasticity could be modulated differently by endurance exercise.