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Exp Gerontol. 1992;27(1):75-81.

Compensatory plasticity of aging at the neuromuscular junction.

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Department of Neurosciences, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.


Several age-related phenomena observed at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) can be viewed as adaptations to cellular deficits. These compensatory mechanisms, which maintain functional and morphologic integrity, are those present in the adult animal. In the study of compensatory mechanisms with age, the choice of an appropriate animal model is important. Three adaptations are discussed: maintenance or increase of transmitter release despite reduced supply of synaptic vesicles; functional reactive sprouting after partial denervation despite reduced axonal transport; and maintenance of nerve terminal integrity in the face of increased outgrowth and retraction. In all cases, successful adaptation in old animals is obtained at the expense of a more fragile system. Either the compensations themselves or the resulting vulnerability may alter the reactions of the aging nervous system to changes in external and internal milieu.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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