Human neuromuscular junctions differ from lab animals!

Human neuromuscular junctions differ from lab animals!

Researchers used cutting-edge imaging to study 3000 of connections between neurons and muscles - known as neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) - from tissue gifted by 20 donors undergoing unrelated leg surgery.

The study revealed details of the anatomy of human NMJs that had not been seen before.

It highlighted differences in the structure and make up of human NMJs compared with those of mice and rats, which are routinely used in studying neuromuscular diseases.

Surprisingly, human NMJs were much smaller and frailer than those found in other mammals.

The research team also found that age had no effect on the health of NMJs. This finding could help doctors understand disease-related changes in the nervous system that affect older adults.

Super-resolution imaging and proteomic profiling revealed distinctive distribution of active zone proteins and differential expression of core synaptic proteins and molecular pathways at the human NMJ. Taken together, these findings reveal human-specific cellular and molecular features of the NMJ that distinguish them from comparable synapses in other mammalian species.

"Our next steps will be to use these vital insights to understand how the NMJ breaks down in human patients with neuromuscular conditions such as motor neurone disease"said the senior author.