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J Neurophysiol. 2004 Jun;91(6):2838-48. Epub 2004 Feb 4.

Reorganization of reflex responses mediated by different afferent sensory fibers after spinal cord transection.

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Laboratory for Magnetic Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School-Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Avenue, Ks 452, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Adult rats were submitted to a complete spinal cord transection at T9 level to address peripheral and spinal reflex changes in the caudal lumbar segments. Compound muscle and nerve action potentials decreased in amplitude and increased their duration between 14 and 30 days but recovered to near to normal values thereafter. The H wave amplitude increased during follow-up, resulting in significantly higher H/M ratio in tibialis anterior (223%), gastrocnemius (160%), and plantar (304%) muscles with respect to preoperatory values (P < 0.01). Sixty minutes after spinal cord transection, component C1 (conveyed by Aalphabeta afferents) disappeared in the crossed but not in the ipsilateral withdrawal reflex. Components C2 (Adelta) and C3 (C afferents) were abolished on both. C1 and C3 reappeared for both reflexes in all injured animals, while C2 reappeared in a few cases. C1 ipsilateral component became highly facilitated (209% of presurgery values, P < 0.01), whereas C3 (82%) and C2 (24%) recovered partially. Crossed reflex component C1 attained in all animals similar to normal values (85%) but with longer duration. C3 increased with time although it remained significantly lower than the original (67%) whereas C2 reappeared in only 2/8 animals. In conclusion, spinal cord injury induces a transient disability of caudal spinal cord segments that progressively reverts along time. Ipsilateral reflex components mediated by thick Aalphabeta fibers (H reflex and C1) but not those mediated by thin fibers (C2 and C3) remained present after injury showing long-lasting facilitation whereas contralateral reflex components were abolished after injury and showed limited recovery.

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