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J Neurotrauma. 2007 May;24(5):885-94.

Aging delays the regeneration process following sciatic nerve injury in rats.

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Institute of Spine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China.


The present study investigated the effect of aging on muscle reinnervation in rats following a crush nerve injury. Using confocal laser scanning microscopy, we examined the spatial correlation of terminal Schwann cells (TSCs) or axon terminals with acetylcholine receptor (AChR) sites at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Compared to young rats (4 months of age), aged rats (24 months of age) demonstrated damaged TSC extensions and delayed regeneration. Post-injury endplate abnormalities in aged rats correlated with the degree of TSC degeneration. In the late stages of reinnervation, pathologic changes were seen in old rats, including multiple innervations, terminal sprouting, and poorly formed collateral innervation in NMJs. Our results suggest that the impaired TSC-axon interaction in aged rats delays the reinnervation process.

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