Neuromuscular Junction Plasticity in Skeletal Muscle Post-Stroke
This project evaluates morphological adaptations of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) in the muscle weakness (hemiparesis) that occurs after stroke. This is a pilot study, with purpose of obtaining proof of concept in preparation for an R01 research proposal on the same topic. The two primary aims are: to characterize morphologic plasticity of the NMJ’s pre-terminal axon in hindlimb and forelimb skeletal muscle at specific time intervals post-stroke and to characterize morphologic plasticity of the NMJ’s motor endplates in hindlimb and forelimb skeletal muscle at specific time intervals post-stroke.
The researchers will visualize the NMJ structures of the terminal axon and post-synaptic membrane (motor endplate), using immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. Image processing will be done with specialized computer programs. They will evaluate parameters such as axonal branching at the NMJ, and cross-sectional areas of the motor endplates. This study will evaluate NMJ adaptations during spontaneous recovery after stroke in order to lay groundwork for future study of how NMJs are influenced by rehabilitation exercise.
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