Endomicroscopy and electromyography of neuromuscular junctions in situ

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Electromyography (EMG) is used routinely to diagnose neuromuscular dysfunction in a wide range of peripheral neuropathies, myopathies, and neuromuscular degenerative diseases including motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Definitive neurological diagnosis may also be indicated by the analysis of pathological neuromuscular innervation in motor-point biopsies. Our objective in this study was to preempt motor-point biopsy by combining live imaging with electrophysiological analysis of slow degeneration of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) in vivo.

We combined conventional needle electromyography with fiber-optic confocal endomicroscopy (CEM), using an integrated hand-held, 1.5-mm-diameter probe. We utilized as a test bed, various axotomized muscles in the hind limbs of anaesthetized, double-homozygous thy1.2YFP16: WldS mice, which coexpress the Wallerian-degeneration Slow (WldS) protein and yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in motor neurons. We also tested exogenous vital stains, including Alexa488-α-bungarotoxin; the styryl pyridinium dye 4-Di-2-Asp; and a GFP conjugate of botulinum toxin Type A heavy chain (GFP-HcBoNT/A).

We show that an integrated EMG/CEM probe is effective in longitudinal evaluation of functional and morphological changes that take place over a 7-day period during axotomy-induced, slow neuromuscular synaptic degeneration. EMG amplitude declined in parallel with overt degeneration of motor nerve terminals. EMG/CEM was safe and effective when nerve terminals and motor endplates were selectively stained with vital dyes.

Our findings constitute proof-of-concept, based on live imaging in an animal model, that combining EMG/CEM may be useful as a minimally invasive precursor or alternative to motor-point biopsy in neurological diagnosis and for monitoring local administration of potential therapeutics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-83
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


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