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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Aug;108(4):1122-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00399.2012. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

Skin incision-induced receptive field responses of mechanosensitive peripheral neurons are developmentally regulated in the rat.

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  • 1Dept. of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1009, USA.


Maturation of the nervous system results in changes in both central and peripheral processing. To better understand responses to injury in the young, developmental differences in the acute response to incision were investigated in both tactile and nociceptive myelinated peripheral mechanosensitive afferent neurons in vivo. Neuronal intrasomal recordings were performed in juvenile and infant rats in 34 L5 dorsal root ganglia, and each neuron was phenotypically defined. Neurons had a mechanosensitive receptive field in the glabrous skin on the plantar surface of the hind paw, which was characterized at baseline and for up to 45 min after incision. Fundamental maturational differences in the effect of incision were clear: in high-threshold nociceptive mechanoreceptors, the mechanical threshold decreased immediately and the receptive field size increased rapidly in juvenile rats but not in infant rats. Additionally, a divergence in changes in the instantaneous response frequency of tactile afferents occurred between the two ages. These differences may help explain maturational differences in responses to peripheral injury and suggest that differences in central nervous system responses may be partially mitigated by spatially confined and frequency-dependent differences resulting from tactile and nociceptive mechanosensitive input.

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