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The transcriptional adaptive response of motoneurons and muscles to voluntary exercise has been investigated by using laser capture microdissection and microarray analysis. Our results show that motoneurons respond to physical activity by activating a complex transcriptional plan, with changes involved in neurotrophic factor signalling, electrophysiological changes and synaptic reorganization. Gastrocnemius muscle shows increases in transcripts responsible for neovascularization and new myogenesis. Both tissues show transcriptional changes involved in the growth and reinforcement of the neuromuscular junction. This study indicates that the neuromuscular system undergoes significant structural and functional alterations, aiming to optimize the transmission of both chemical and electrical stimuli, thus prompting axonal outgrowth and mechanisms similar to long-term potentiation in hippocampal neurons. Understanding the response of these cells during exercise has potentially important implications for human neuromuscular disease, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, by highlighting candidate genes pivotal for the balance between the physiology and the pathology of the neuromuscular system in terms of the stress response to physical exercise.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurochem

Publication Date





1714 - 1724


Adaptation, Physiological, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Female, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Models, Biological, Motor Neurons, Muscle Development, Muscle, Skeletal, Neovascularization, Physiologic, Neuromuscular Junction, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Physical Conditioning, Animal, Spinal Cord, Time Factors