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J Neurosci. 2005 Aug 10;25(32):7401-5.

How to enhance ipsilateral actions of pyramidal tract neurons.

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Department of Physiology, Göteborg University, 405 30 Göteborg, Sweden.


We have shown previously that ipsilateral pyramidal tract (PT) neurons facilitate the actions of reticulospinal neurons on feline motoneurons (Edgley et al., 2004), which indicates that they might assist the recovery of motor functions after injuries of contralateral corticospinal neurons. Nevertheless, stimulation of ipsilateral PT fibers alone only rarely evoked any synaptic actions in motoneurons. The aim of this study was to investigate possible ways of enhancing such actions and of inducing more effective excitation and inhibition of motoneurons. The effects of stimulation of the ipsilateral PT were investigated after eliminating the spinal actions of contralateral PT fibers by hemisecting the spinal cord at a low thoracic level and were estimated from intracellular records from hindlimb motoneurons. Two measures were used to enhance PT actions. The first was to increase the probability of activation of reticulospinal neurons by mutual facilitation of actions of ipsilateral and contralateral PT neurons. The second was to enhance synaptic transmission between PT neurons and reticulospinal neurons, and in pathways between the reticulospinal neurons and motoneurons via commissural interneurons, by systemic application of a K+ channel blocker, 4-aminopyridine (4-AP). The results show that under favorable conditions, ipsilateral PT neurons may induce EPSPs and IPSPs in hindlimb motoneurons, or even action potentials, via the reticulospinal pathway. This study strengthens previous conclusions that ipsilateral PT neurons can potentially replace, at least to some extent, the actions of injured contralateral PT neurons. It also suggests that 4-AP might improve the progress of the recovery.

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