Primary afferent depolarization
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract The present investigation documents the patterns of primary afferent depolarization (PAD) of single, functionally identified muscle afferents from the medial gastrocnemius nerve in the intact, anesthetized cat. Classification of the impaled muscle afferents as from muscle spindles or from tendon organs was made according to several criteria, which comprised measurement of conduction velocity and electrical threshold of the peripheral axons, and the maximal frequency followed by the afferent fibers during vibration, as well as the changes in discharge frequency during longitudinal stretch, the projection of the afferent fiber to the motor pool, and, in unparalyzed preparations, the changes in afferent activity during a muscle twitch. In confirmation of a previous study, we found that most muscle spindle afferents (46.1–66.6%, depending on the combination of criteria utilized for receptor classification) had a type A PAD pattern. That is, they were depolarized by stimulation of group I fibers of the posterior biceps and semitendinosus (PBSt) nerve, but not by stimulation of cutaneous nerves (sural and superficial peroneus) or the bulbar reticular formation (RF), which in many cases inhibited the PBSt-induced PAD. In addition, we found a significant fraction of muscle spindle primaries that were depolarized by stimulation of group I PBSt fibers and also by stimulation of the bulbar RF. Stimulation of cutaneous nerves produced PAD in 9.1–31.2% of these fibers (type B PAD pattern) and no PAD in 8.2–15.4% (type C PAD pattern). In contrast to muscle spindle afferents, only the 7.7–15.4% of fibers from tendon organs had a type A PAD pattern, 23–46.1% had a type B and 50–61.5% a type C PAD pattern. These observations suggest that the neuronal circuitry involved in the control of the synaptic effectiveness of muscle spindles and tendon organs is subjected to excitatory as well as to inhibitory influences from cutaneous and reticulospinal fibers. As shown in the accompanying paper, the balance between excitation and inhibition is not fixed, but can be changed by crushing the afferent axons in the peripheral nerve and allowing subsequent reconnection of these afferent fibers with muscle receptors.
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