Nerve transplant shows that muscles adapt according to the nerve's origin
From swinging our running legs, to pulling our eyes shut in bright light, muscles stretch behind every move we make. To control them, nerve cells called motor neurons carry signals from the brain and central nervous system towards bundles of muscle fibres, helping to shape patterns of contractions. Injury can damage these connections, reducing movement – but nerve transplants may be an answer. This muscle, from a rat’s paw, has a mixture of two types of muscle fibre (highlighted in yellow and green). Transplanting paw muscle’s nerve to reconnect, or innervate, a bicep in the front leg had a surprising effect – the leg muscle changed, developing a fibre pattern similar to the paw. That muscle adapts to match the specific nerve 'plugged in' during transplant raises hopes for future surgeries, and the design prosthetic tissues with a greater chance of settling in to life.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.