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Keywords:

  • active zone;
  • aging;
  • exercise;
  • laminin;
  • synapse

ABSTRACT

Physical activity plays an important role in preventing chronic disease in adults and the elderly. Exercise has beneficial effects on the nervous system, including at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Exercise causes hypertrophy of NMJs and improves recovery from peripheral nerve injuries, whereas decreased physical activity causes degenerative changes in NMJs. Recent studies have begun to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of exercise. These mechanisms involve Bassoon, neuregulin-1, peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor gamma coactivator 1α, insulin-like growth factor-1, glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin 4, Homer, and nuclear factor of activated T cells c1. For example, NMJ denervation and active zone decreases have been observed in aged NMJs, but these age-dependent degenerative changes can be ameliorated by exercise. In this review we assess the effects of exercise on the maintenance and regeneration of NMJs and highlight recent insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying these exercise effects. Muscle Nerve 49:315–324, 2014