The neuromuscular junction is where nerves meet muscles. The terminals of the nerve fibres connect to the motor end plates. which are unique locations on the muscle membrane. Receptors on these plates allow muscles to respond to acetylcholine. A chemical messenger (neurotransmitter) is produced by the nerve to transfer the nerve impulse to the neuromuscular junction. An electrical impulse moves through the muscle. Once a neuron is activated at this moment, it causes it to contract. Acetylcholine is broken down once the impulse is sent so that it does not continue to stimulate the muscles.
Disorders characterised by a dysfunction of the neuromuscular junction include:
- Myasthenia gravis (MG) is an autoimmune illness, which means that the body’s immune system assaults itself. MG interferes with the nerve-muscle connection (the neuromuscular junction).
- Muscle weakness worsens throughout the day in people with myasthenia gravis (MG). The neuromuscular system is affected by this autoimmune illness. The first sign is drooping eyelids on a regular basis.You may eventually find it difficult to manage your neck and limbs. Medications and surgery can help alleviate the symptoms of this chronic disease.
Botulism is an uncommon but serious disease caused by toxins produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.
Botulism can be classified into three types:
- Botulism is caused by food.
Hazardous bacteria grow and create the toxin in low-oxygen settings, such as home-canned food.
- Botulism of the wound.
If these bacteria enter a cut, they can induce a potentially fatal infection that produces the toxin.
- Botulism in children.
This is the most frequent type of botulism, which occurs when Clostridium botulinum bacterial spores proliferate in a baby’s intestinal tract. It usually affects babies between the ages of 2 and 8 months.
- Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a highly rare illness that disrupts nerve-to-muscle impulses.
- It means that the muscles are unable to appropriately tighten (contract), resulting in muscle weakness and a variety of additional symptoms.
- LEMS affects around half of all lung cancer patients in their forties or fifties. The remaining occurrences are not cancer-related and can occur at any age.
- Myasthenic syndrome or Eaton-Lambert syndrome are other names for LEMS.
Furthermore, several medications might cause the neuromuscular junction to malfunction.
Some antibiotics, certain insecticides (organophosphates),
Chemical-warfare chemicals such as sarin gas and Novichok,
and curare is among the medications used in high doses. Novichok was created in Russia and has been used in several assassination attempts.
Curare has been used to relax muscles during surgery as well as paralyse and kill when applied to the tip of poison darts.
Some of these chemicals inhibit the natural breakdown of acetylcholine once a nerve signal is sent to the muscle.
Neuromuscular junction problems commonly result in decreased nerve cell activity and muscle weakness. However, they have no effect on feeling (that is, they do not cause loss of sensation or abnormal sensations, such as tingling or a pins-and-needle sensation).
Some neuromuscular junction problems cause a decrease in nerve activity, resulting in weakness. Other conditions, such as the ones listed below, increase nerve activity:
Antibodies produced by the body assault nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that regulate muscle mobility, resulting in stiff-person syndrome. As a result, muscles are constantly stimulated, leading them to stiffen.
Isaacs syndrome occurs when nerves send electrical signals to muscles repeatedly. Muscles are constantly overstimulated as a result. Muscles stiffen and twitch, making exercise and other typical physical tasks difficult or impossible to do.
Although the changes that produce stiff-person syndrome are mostly caused by changes in the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system), they also influence the neuromuscular junction. As a result, muscles are constantly stimulated and contracted.