Synaptic vesicle cycling at type-identified diaphragm neuromuscular junctions

Carlos B. Mantilla, Katharine L. Rowley, Mohamed A. Fahim, Wen Zhi Zhan, Gary C. Sieck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Differences in neuromuscular transmission and neuromuscular junction morphology exist across muscle fiber types. We hypothesized that these fiber-type differences are reflected in the size of the cycling synaptic vesicle pool. Synaptic vesicle cycling at type-identified rat diaphragm neuromuscular junctions was examined by fluorescently labeling presynaptic vesicles with FM4-64. We found that FM4-64 fluorescence uptake was higher at presynaptic terminals of type I/IIa fibers than type IIx/IIb fibers. However, no fiber-type differences in the rate of FM4-64 destaining were found with repetitive nerve stimulation. Synaptic vesicle density at active zones was examined by transmission electron microscopy. In accordance with FM4-64 uptake, synaptic vesicle density was greater at type I/IIa than IIx/IIb fibers. These results demonstrate differences in synaptic vesicle cycling across diaphragm muscle fiber types, which may underlie previously observed differences in neuromuscular transmission across diaphragm muscle fiber types. In the diaphragm, motor units comprising type I and type IIa fibers are most frequently recruited with a duty cycle of ∼40%. Motor units comprising IIx/IIb fibers are infrequently recruited and only for short durations. The capacity for synaptic vesicle release and cycling at different muscle fiber types matches the functional requirements of these motor units. If the demand for recruitment of motor units comprising IIx/IIb fibers increases, for example, with mechanical loading, there is an increased risk for neuromuscular transmission failure that my relate to the capacity for synaptic vesicle release and cycling. Muscle fiber type-specific adaptations should be considered when examining neuromuscular disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-783
Number of pages10
JournalMuscle and Nerve
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • FM4-64
  • Motor unit
  • Muscle fiber type
  • Neuromuscular transmission
  • Phrenic motoneurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Physiology (medical)


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