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Pain. 2001 May;92(1-2):117-27.

Modulation of jaw muscle spindle afferent activity following intramuscular injections with hypertonic saline.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Craniofacial Biological Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore School of Dentistry, 666 W. Baltimore Street, MD, Baltimore 21201,USA. jyr001@dental.umaryland.edu

Abstract

Transient noxious chemical stimulation of small diameter muscle afferents modulates jaw movement-related responses of caudal brainstem neurons. While it is likely that the effect is mediated from the spindle afferents in the mesencephalic nucleus (Vmes) via the caudally projecting Probst's tract, the mechanisms of pain induced modulations of jaw muscle spindle afferents is not known. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that jaw muscle nociceptors gain access to muscle spindle afferents in the same muscle via central mechanisms and alter their sensitivity. Thirty-five neurons recorded from the Vmes were characterized as muscle spindle afferents based on their responses to passive jaw movements, muscle palpation, and electrical stimulation of the masseter nerve. Each cell was tested by injecting a small volume (250 microl) of either 5% hypertonic and/or isotonic saline into the receptor-bearing muscle. Twenty-nine units were tested with 5% hypertonic saline, of which 79% (23/29) showed significant modulation of mean firing rates (MFRs) during one or more phases of ramp-and-hold movements. Among the muscle spindle primary-like units (n = 12), MFRs of 4 units were facilitated, five reduced, two showed mixed responses and one unchanged. In secondary-like units (n = 17), MFRs of 9 were facilitated, three reduced and five unchanged. Thirteen units were tested with isotonic saline, of which 77% showed no significant changes of MFRs. Further analysis revealed that the hypertonic saline not only affected the overall output of muscle spindle afferents, but also increased the variability of firing and altered the relationship between afferent signal and muscle length. These results demonstrated that activation of muscle nociceptors significantly affects proprioceptive properties of jaw muscle spindles via central neural mechanisms. The changes can have deleterious effects on oral motor function as well as kinesthetic sensibility.

PMID:
11323133
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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