European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 98, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

The denervated muscle: facts and hypotheses. A historical review

  • Menotti MidrioEmail author
Review Article


Denervation changes in skeletal muscle (atrophy; alterations of myofibrillar expression, muscle membrane electrical properties, ACh sensitivity and excitation–contraction coupling process; fibrillation), and their possible causes are reviewed. All changes can be counteracted by muscle electrostimulation, while denervation-like effects can be caused by the complete conduction block in muscle nerve. These results do not support the hypothesis that the lack of neurotrophic, non-motor factors plays a role in denervation phenomena. Instead they support the view that the lack of neuromotor discharge is the only cause of the phenomena and that neuromotor activity is an essential factor in regulating muscle properties. However, some experimental results cannot apparently be explained by the lack of neuromotor impulses, and may still suggest that neurotrophic influences exist. A hypothesis is that neurotrophic factors, too feeble to maintain a role in completely differentiated, adult muscles, can concur with neuromotor activity in the differentiation of immature, developing muscles.


Skeletal muscle Denervation Neurotrophic factors 


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© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Anatomy and Physiology, Section of PhysiologyUniversity of PaduaPadovaItaly

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