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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Aug 15;303(4):E551-61. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00622.2011. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

Acetylcholinesterase deficiency contributes to neuromuscular junction dysfunction in type 1 diabetic neuropathy.

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  • 1Dept. of Pharmacology and Physiology, New Jersey Medical School-UMDNJ, MSB-I626, 185 South Orange Ave., Newark, NJ 07101-1709, USA.


Diabetic neuropathy is associated with functional and morphological changes of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) associated with muscle weakness. This study examines the effect of type 1 diabetes on NMJ function. Swiss Webster mice were made diabetic with three interdaily ip injections of streptozotocin (STZ). Mice were severely hyperglycemic within 7 days after the STZ treatment began. Whereas performance of mice on a rotating rod remained normal, the twitch tension response of the isolated extensor digitorum longus to nerve stimulation was reduced significantly at 4 wk after the onset of STZ-induced hyperglycemia. This mechanical alteration was associated with increased amplitude and prolonged duration of miniature end-plate currents (mEPCs). Prolongation of mEPCs was not due to expression of the embryonic acetylcholine receptor but to reduced muscle expression of acetylcholine esterase (AChE). Greater sensitivity of mEPC decay time to the selective butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) inhibitor PEC suggests that muscle attempts to compensate for reduced AChE levels by increasing expression of BChE. These alterations of AChE are attributed to STZ-induced hyperglycemia since similar mEPC prolongation and reduced AChE expression were found for db/db mice. The reduction of muscle end-plate AChE activity early during the onset of STZ-induced hyperglycemia may contribute to endplate pathology and subsequent muscle weakness during diabetes.

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