Primary afferent depolarization
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In the anesthetized cat we have analyzed the changes in primary afferent depolarization (PAD) evoked in single muscle spindle and tendon organ afferents at different times after their axons were crushed in the periphery and allowed to regenerate. Medial gastrocnemius (MG) afferents were depolarized by stimulation of group I fibers in the posterior biceps and semitendinosus nerve (PBSt), as soon as 2 weeks after crushing their axons in the periphery, in some cases before they could be activated by physiological stimulation of muscle receptors. Two to twelve weeks after crushing the MG nerve, stimulation of the PBSt produced PAD in all MG fibers reconnected with presumed muscle spindles and tendon organs. The mean amplitude of the PAD elicited in afferent fibers reconnected with muscle spindles was increased relative to values obtained from Ia fibers in intact (control) preparations, but remained essentially the same in fibers reconnected with tendon organs. Quite unexpectedly, we found that, between 2 and 12 weeks after crushing the MG nerve, stimulation of the bulbar reticular formation (RF) produced PAD in most afferent fibers reconnected with muscle spindle afferents. The mean amplitude of the PAD elicited in these fibers was significantly increased relative to the PAD elicited in muscle spindle afferents from intact preparations (from 0.08–0.4 to 0.47-0.34 mV). A substantial recovery was observed between 6 months and 2.5 years after the peripheral nerve injury. Stimulation of the sural (SU) nerve produced practically no PAD in muscle spindles from intact preparations, and this remained so in those afferents reconnected with muscle spindles impaled 2–12 weeks after the nerve crush. The mean amplitude of the PAD produced in afferent fibers reconnected with tendon organs by stimulation of the PBSt nerve and of the bulbar RF remained essentially the same as the PAD elicited in intact afferents. However, SU nerve stimulation produced a larger PAD in afferents reconnected with tendon organs 2–12 weeks after the nerve crush (mean PAD changed from 0.05-0.04 to 0.32-0.17 mV). The results obtained indicate that the PAD patterns of the afferent fibers reconnected with muscle spindle and tendon organ afferents are changed after crushing their axons in the periphery: stimulation of the bulbar RF appears to produce larger PAD in fibers reconnected with muscle spindles, and stimulation of cutaneous afferents produces larger PAD in fibers reconnected with tendon organs. It is suggested that these alterations in the patterns of PAD of muscle afferents result from central changes in the balance of excitatory and inhibitory influences acting on the segmental pathways mediating the PAD. Although the functional role of these changes has not been established, they may reflect compensatory changes aimed to adjust information arising from damaged afferents.
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