Acute sleep deprivation induces synaptic remodeling at the soleus muscle neuromuscular junction in rats

Sleep. 2023 Aug 14;46(8):zsac229. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsac229.


Sleep is important for cognitive and physical performance. Sleep deprivation not only affects neural functions but also results in muscular fatigue. A good night's sleep reverses these functional derangements caused by sleep deprivation. The role of sleep in brain function has been extensively studied. However, its role in neuromuscular junction (NMJ) or skeletal muscle morphology is sparsely addressed although skeletal muscle atonia and suspended thermoregulation during rapid eye movement sleep possibly provide a conducive environment for the muscle to rest and repair; somewhat similar to slow-wave sleep for synaptic downscaling. In the present study, we have investigated the effect of 24 h sleep deprivation on the NMJ morphology and neurochemistry using electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry in the rat soleus muscle. Acute sleep deprivation altered synaptic ultra-structure viz. mitochondria, synaptic vesicle, synaptic proteins, basal lamina, and junctional folds needed for neuromuscular transmission. Further acute sleep deprivation showed the depletion of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and the overactivity of its degrading enzyme acetylcholine esterase at the NMJ. The impact of sleep deprivation on synaptic homeostasis in the brain has been extensively reported recently. The present evidence from our studies shows new information on the role of sleep on the NMJ homeostasis and its functioning.

Keywords: immunohistochemistry; neuromuscular transmission; plasticity; sleep physiology; synaptic junctions; transmission electron microscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine* / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Sleep Deprivation*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology


  • Acetylcholine