Trauma or the tourniquet used in orthopedic surgery is often associated with ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury with a consequent decrease of muscle power. To explore whether components of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) are involved in this muscle dysfunction, NMJs were ultrastructurally characterized in the extensor digitorum longus muscle of rats at reperfusion times of 1, 24, 72, and 168 h after a 120-min arterial occlusion. Disorganization of the presynaptic membrane and mitochondrial injury was noted at 1 h, followed by fragmentation and partial engulfment of nerve terminals by Schwann cells at 24 and 72 h. The magnitude of degenerative changes declined at 168 h, suggesting the commencement of regeneration. The postsynaptic membrane remained intact throughout the whole period. In our previous study, deafferentation with pretreatment of the sciatic nerve with capsaicin, which reduces neurogenic inflammation and has a selective effect on nociceptive fibers, improved functional recovery of the muscle after I/R. The present results document a significantly delayed structural regeneration of the motor nerve terminals after combined capsaicin and I/R treatment. Since capsaicin treatment alone had no discernible effect on the structure of NMJs, the findings point to a possibly indirect effect of capsaicin on the motor nerves, which may predispose them to increased susceptibility unmasked only by a subsequent injury. The mismatch between the enhanced functional improvement of the muscle and delayed regeneration of the nerve after capsaicin pretreatment questions the efficient use of such deafferentation to protect the integrity of neuromuscular junctions in I/R injury.
- Neuromuscular synapse
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Physiology (medical)