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New Insights into the Mammalian Neuromuscular Junction

Researchers from Anatomy@Edinburgh have obtained new insights into the mammalian neuromuscular junction (NMJ) – the connection between nerve and muscle – that may help to guide future studies of human disease.

In a study published by the Journal of Anatomy direct comparison of NMJs from 6 species (mouse, cat, dog, sheep, pig, human) revealed that sheep and human NMJs are the most similar in overall structure. In conditions where NMJs break down (e.g. motor neurone disease), mouse models are usually used to study the disease and develop treatments. The present study suggests that sheep may now offer a more closely matched model for future research into diseases affecting the human NMJ.

Comparative anatomy of the mammalian neuromuscular junction
Image: Boehm I, Alhindi A, Leite AS, et al. Comparative anatomy of the mammalian neuromuscular junction. Journal of Anatomy, 2020;00:1–10.

Related link

The paper in the Journal of Anatomy and is open access: Comparative anatomy of the mammalian neuromuscular junction.

Related research

Human NMJs in health and disease:

Cellular and Molecular Anatomy of the Human Neuromuscular Junction, Cell Reports (open access)

Neuromuscular junctions are stable in patients with cancer cachexia, The Journal of Clinical Investigation (open access)

Tools for measuring NMJs:

NMJ-morph reveals principal components of synaptic morphology influencing structure–function relationships at the neuromuscular junction, Open Biology (open access)

aNMJ-morph: a simple macro for rapid analysis of neuromuscular junction morphology, Royal Society Open Science (open access)