Exercise modulates synaptic acetylcholinesterase at neuromuscular junctions

E. Blotnick, L. Anglister*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Acetylcholinesterase plays a major role in neuromuscular transmission and is regulated by neuromuscular activity. Since fast-twitch motor units are recruited with increased motor demand, we examined acetylcholinesterase regulation in rat leg muscles following treadmill training. Total acetylcholinesterase and specifically the membrane-bound tetramer increased in exercised fast-, but not slow-twitch muscles, while other isoforms remained unchanged. Synaptic acetylcholinesterase increased markedly in neuromuscular junctions of trained fibers, without concomitant changes in synaptic acetylcholine receptor, thus elevating synaptic acetylcholinesterase/receptor ratios. Electron microscopy showed that acetylcholinesterase increased in postjunctional folds and primary cleft, where it was added adjacent to the postsynaptic muscle membrane. Thus, although the primary acetylcholinesterase at the neuromuscular junction is the collagen-tailed asymmetric isoform associated with synaptic basal lamina, physiological demands such as strenuous exercise, or potentially pathological conditions, can selectively recruit the membrane-bound acetylcholinesterase tetramer to the synapse for optimal synaptic transmission.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 5 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 IBRO.


  • Acetylcholine receptor
  • Acetylcholinesterase molecular forms
  • Fast-twitch
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Treadmill


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