As the final output of the somatic nervous system, the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is essential for all voluntary movements. The NMJ is also necessary for connected cells to function and survive. Because of this central role, much effort has been devoted to understanding the effects of aging, diseases, and injuries on the NMJ. These efforts have revealed a close relationship between aberrant changes at NMJs and its three cellular components - the presynaptic site on motor axons, the postsynaptic region on muscle fibers and perisynaptic Schwann cells. Here, we review the morphological and molecular changes associated with aging NMJs in rodents and humans. We also provide an overview of factors with potential roles in maintaining and repairing adult and aged NMJs.
Keywords: FGFBP1; LRP4; NMJ; aging; caloric restriction; cholinergic transmission; exercise; injury; regeneration; sarcopenia; synaptic cleft; z-agrin.