Neuromuscular Junction Formation, Aging, and Disorders

Lei Li, Wencheng Xiong, Lin Mei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

188 Scopus citations


Synapses, the fundamental unit in neuronal circuits, are critical for learning and memory, perception, thinking, and reaction. The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) is a synapse formed between motoneurons and skeletal muscle fibers that is covered by Schwann cells (SCs). It is essential for controlling muscle contraction. NMJ formation requires intimate interactions among motoneurons, muscles, and SCs. Deficits in NMJ formation and maintenance cause neuromuscular disorders, including congenital myasthenic syndrome and myasthenia gravis. NMJ decline occurs in aged animals and may appear before clinical presentation of motoneuron disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We review recent findings in NMJ formation, maintenance, neuromuscular disorders, and aging of the NMJ, focusing on communications among motoneurons, muscles and SCs, and underlying mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-188
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Physiology
StatePublished - Feb 10 2018


  • Agrin-Lrp4-MuSK signaling
  • NMJ disorders
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Retrograde signaling
  • Schwann cells
  • Wnt signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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