Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

John Spitsbergen

Second Advisor

John Jellies


Impairment of neuromuscular function as a result of aging is primarily associated with degeneration of the peripheral nervous system and loss of type II muscle fibers (Lexell et al, 1988). Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a neurotrophic factor found in skeletal muscle that has been shown to rescue motor neurons from axotomy-induced cell death (Oppenheim et al., 1995) and to induce NMJ plasticity (Keller-Peck et al., 2001). The aim of this study was to examine GDNF protein content following muscle activation in vitro and in vivo models. GDNF protein content was measured in rat gastrocnemius muscles following differing levels of activity. GDNF protein content was measured in culture medium of C2C12 skeletal muscle cells following electrical stimulation for 2 and 48 hours. Quantification of GDNF protein was done with ELISA. Exercise did not have a significant effect on GDNF protein content in skeletal muscle but there was a negative trend toward a decrease in GDNF protein content. Forty-eight hours of electrical stimulation of C2C12 skeletal muscle decreased GDNF protein content within cell culture medium. These results suggest that muscle activation inhibits GDNF protein content in rat gastrocnemius muscle and decreases protein content in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells. Linking GDNF production to physical activity may help explain the benefits of exercise for the peripheral nervous system.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

THESIS Presentation.pdf (1752 kB)
Defense Presentation