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The effects of chronic stimulation on the morphology of the frog rana pipiens neuro muscular junction


, : The effects of chronic stimulation on the morphology of the frog rana pipiens neuro muscular junction. Journal of Neurocytology 11(1): 81-108

A quantitative study was made of the effects of 24 h continuous stimulation on the morphology of the frog neuromuscular junction. The synaptic vesicle concentration in the nerve endings of frog sartorius muscles stimulated in vitro for 24 h at 2 Hz was the same as that in controls stimulated for only 0.3 h at 2 Hz. The control preparations were either freshly dissected or maintained at rest in vitro for 23 h prior to stimulation. Chronically stimulated terminals differed from their controls only in having more cisternae and fewer dense cored vesicles. Varying the lengths of the nerves to both chronically stimulated and in vitro control muscles had little effect on the morphology of the nerve endings. Continuous recording of muscle twitch tension demonstrated that neurotransmission was effective throughout the 24 h period of stimulation. Additional evidence that nerve failure or degeneration was not a factor in the results came from a second set of control and chronically stimulated preparations that were tetanized at 30 Hz for 0.3 h before fixation. Changes attributable to rapid stimulation were evident in 87-100% of their nerve terminals. Although the distribution of membrane among various membrane organelles differed among treatment groups, the total amount of measurable membrane in the nerve terminals was the same in all of the treatment groups; the total amount of membrane was not altered by maintenance in vitro, chronic stimulation at 2 Hz, rapid stimulation at 30 Hz, reduced nerve length or any tested combination of these treatments. This conservation of total membrane suggests that membrane exchange between axon and nerve terminal occurs at a relatively slow rate which is unaffected by synaptic activity, and that the local mechanism for recycling synaptic vesicle membrane in frog neuromuscular junctions is more autonomous and durable than has been suspected.

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