Neurotrophins improve neuromuscular transmission in the adult rat diaphragm

Carlos B. Mantilla, Wen Zhi Zhan, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Neurotrophins modulate acute and sustained synaptic plasticity. In cultured Xenopus laevis neuromuscular junctions, neurotrophins improve neuromuscular transmission. Whether this influence exists at the mammalian neuromuscular junction is unknown. We hypothesized that neurotrophins improve neuromuscular transmission at neuromuscular junctions of adult rat diaphragm muscle fibers. A diaphragm muscle-phrenic nerve preparation was used to determine the effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin-4 (NT-4) and K252a [tyrosine kinase (Trk) receptor inhibitor] on the extent of neuromuscular transmission failure induced by repetitive nerve stimulation. We found significant enhancement of neuromuscular transmission with BDNF or NT-4 treatment, whereas K252a treatment worsened neuromuscular transmission. In contrast, diaphragm muscle contractile and fatigue properties were unaffected by neurotrophin or K252a treatment. These results demonstrate that BDNF and NT-4 improve synaptic transmission in the adult rat diaphragm muscle, likely in a Trk-dependent fashion. Neurotrophins may constitute a novel therapeutic target to improve neuromuscular function in the diaphragm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-386
Number of pages6
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004


  • Motor unit
  • Neuromuscular transmission failure
  • Phrenic motoneurons
  • Plasticity
  • Synaptic efficacy
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Neurotrophins improve neuromuscular transmission in the adult rat diaphragm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this