Sod1 gene ablation in adult mice leads to physiological changes at the neuromuscular junction similar to changes that occur in old wild-type mice

Maxim V. Ivannikov, Holly Van Remmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are believed to be important mediators of muscle atrophy and weakness in aging and many degenerative conditions. However, the mechanisms and physiological processes specifically affected by elevated ROS in neuromuscular units that contribute to muscle weakness during aging are not well defined. Here we investigate the effects of chronic oxidative stress on neurotransmission and excitation-contraction (EC) coupling mechanisms in the levator auris longus (LAL) muscle from young (4-8 months) and old (22-28 months) wild-type mice and young adult Cu-Zn superoxide dismutase 1 knockout (Sod1-/-) mice. The frequency of spontaneous neurotransmitter release and the amplitude of evoked neurotransmitter release in young Sod1-/- and old wild-type LAL neuromuscular junctions were significantly reduced from the young wild-type values, and those declines were mirrored by decreases in synaptic vesicle pool size. Presynaptic cytosolic calcium concentration and mitochondrial calcium uptake amplitudes showed substantial increases in stimulated young Sod1-/- and old axon terminals. Surprisingly, LAL muscle fibers from old mice showed a greater excitability than fibers from either young wild-type or young Sod1-/- LAL. Both evoked excitatory junction potential (EJP) and spontaneous mini EJP amplitudes were considerably higher in LAL muscles from old mice than in fibers from young Sod1-/- LAL muscle. Despite a greater excitability, sarcoplasmic calcium influx in both old wild-type and young Sod1-/- LAL muscle fibers was significantly less. Sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium levels were also reduced in both old wild-type and young Sod1-/- mice, but the difference was not statistically significant in muscle fibers from old wild-type mice. The protein ratio of triad calcium channels RyR1/DHPR was not different in all groups. However, fibers from both young Sod1-/- and old mice had substantially elevated levels of protein carbonylation and S-nitrosylation modifications. Overall, our results suggest that young Sod1-/- recapitulate many neuromuscular and muscle fiber changes seen in old mice. We also conclude that muscle weakness in old mice might in part be driven by ROS-mediated EC uncoupling, while both EC uncoupling and reduced neurotransmitter release contribute to muscle weakness in Sod1-/- mice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
StatePublished - May 10 2015


  • Aging
  • NMJ
  • Neurotransmission
  • ROS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology (medical)


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