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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Age differences in morphology of reinnervation of partially denervated mouse muscle.

The effect of age on the ability of motor neurons to develop and maintain an enlarged total axonal and synaptic volume was compared in soleus muscles of 5-8-month and 25-30-month mice, 30-120 d after partial denervation. Before and after partial denervation (transection of the L5 root), the total number of muscle fibers was the same in all muscles. However, in young animals, there was only some transient atrophy and hypertrophy mostly receded by 120 d, whereas in old muscle, a more prominent early atrophy was followed by persistent hypertrophy. Ectopic endplates were not found. In zinc-iodide-osmium (ZIO) stained preparations, muscle fibers with small nerve terminals were present at 60 d and were still present in old muscle at 120 d. Fluorescent staining of nerve terminals and acetylcholine receptors revealed that in young muscle, postsynaptic sites were nearly or completely reoccupied by 60 d. In old muscle, about 22% of former junctions were denervated, with the remainder minimally to fully reinnervated. At 60 d and thereafter, collateral sprouts originated from nodes of Ranvier in both young and old muscle and were remyelinated in young but mainly unmyelinated and remarkably tortuous in old animals. These results, confirmed with immunofluorescent strains for myelin basic protein and neurofilaments, account for many of the physiological findings (Jacob and Robbins, 1990). Motor unit size expanded 2.5 times in young and 2 times in old muscle at 60 d after partial denervation. However, the increment in total quantal output and nerve terminal volume per motor neuron was 60-100% greater than control in young but only 20-25% greater in old muscle, with little further recovery. This inability of the motor neuron in old mice to expand the field of innervation may reflect a limitation imposed by reduced axonal transport. The present findings may elucidate the muscle weakness in postpolio syndrome and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.[1]


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