Facilitatory effects of dexamethasone on neuromuscular transmission


Experimental Neurology, vol.95, no.1, pp.116-125, 1987 (Scopus) identifier identifier identifier


The beneficial effects of glucocorticoids in myasthenia gravis are attributed to their immunosuppressive actions. There are also studies reporting direct facilitatory as well as depressant effects of glucocorticoids on neuromuscular transmission. The effects of dexamethasone on neuromuscular transmission were studied by intracellular and extracellular microelectrode recording techniques in the mouse phrenic nerve-diaphragm preparation. Creatinine had to be added to the bathing media to prevent precipitation of the glucocorticoid with Ca2+ and Mg2+; creatinine had no effect. One hour of perfusion with dexamethasone (10-4 to 10-3 M) increased the frequency of miniature end-plate potentials (MEPPs), as well as the amplitude and quantum content of end-plate potentials (EPPs), but did not change MEPP amplitude, suggesting an increase in acetylcholine release. Dexamethasone also enhanced presynaptic facilitation and potentiation during repetitive stimulation. It had no effect on muscle resting membrane potential but increased the amplitude, overshoot, and rate of rise of muscle action potentials. The amplitudes of nerve terminal action potentials were also enhanced by dexamethasone. These findings suggest that glucocorticoids have a direct facilitatory action on neuromuscular transmission by a presynaptic action. © 1987.