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J Neurocytol. 2003 Jun-Sep;32(5-8):931-41.

Neurotrophic regulation of the development and function of the neuromuscular synapses.

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Section on Neural Development & Plasticity, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development/NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-4480, USA.


Recent studies have established that one of the major functions of neurotrophic factors is to regulate synaptic development and plasticity. This owes a great deal to the studies using the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) as a model system. In this review, we summarize the effects of various neurotrophic factors on the development and function of the neuromuscular synapses. We describe experiments addressing the role of neurotrophins, as well as that of other factors (GFLs, TGF-betas, and Wnts). The synaptic effects of neurotrophic factors are divided into two categories: acute effects on synaptic transmission and plasticity occurring within seconds or minutes after cells are exposed to a particular factor, and long-term regulation of synaptic structure and function that takes days to accomplish. We consider the presynaptic effects on the release of the neurotransmitter ACh, as well as the postsynaptic effects on the clustering of ACh receptors. Further studies of the mechanisms underlying these regulatory effects will help us better understand how neurotrophic factors can achieve diverse and synapse-specific modulation in the brain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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