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J Neurocytol. 1983 Dec;12(6):887-919.

The innervation of skeletal muscles in chickens curarized during early development.


Chicken embryos were treated with partially paralysing doses of d-tubocurarine (dtc) from embryonic (E) days 6 to 10. The pattern of innervation of the lateral gastrocnemius (GL) muscle was examined both morphologically and physiologically just before hatching on day E20 or E21. There was a 70% increase in number of surviving motor neurons in the lateral motor column and a 50% increase in the number of myelinated axons in the nerve to GL. The GL muscle was significantly atrophic, with an average weight of 40% of normal. The atrophy was largely due to the reduced size of the muscle fibres. The mean size of the motor units was essentially unchanged or perhaps slightly increased. There was a striking increase in the level of polyneuronal innervation of the muscle fibres, both in terms of number of synaptic sites per fibre and number of axons innervating each site. Spontaneous miniature endplate potentials (mepps) indicated focal innervation of the fibres in the normal muscle. Most fibres in the dtc-treated muscles had mepps of widely varying time courses, and there was no simple relation between amplitude and rise time. Many of the slow mepps were not represented in the endplate potentials evoked by nerve stimulation. The quantal content of the endplate potential (epp) was generally increased in the dtc-treated muscles. The findings are discussed in terms of a retrograde signal from muscle to nerve and its dependence on muscle activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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