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Neurosci Lett. 2006 Nov 27;409(1):14-8. Epub 2006 Oct 10.

Distribution of synaptic field potentials induced by TTX-resistant skin and muscle afferents in rat spinal segments L4 and L5.

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Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 307, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Previous results from our group and others showed that skin and muscle afferents are equipped with tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) channels. The great majority of the TTX-r fibres are unmyelinated (C or group IV) and are assumed to have nociceptive functions. Therefore, a block of the TTX-sensitive (TTX-s) fibres offers the possibility to study reactions of central nervous neurones to a purely nociceptive input. The present study compared spinal synaptic field potentials (SFPs) evoked by electrical stimulation of TTX-r afferent fibres from skin and muscle at various depths of the spinal segments L4 and L5 in the rat. Cutaneous input was produced by stimulation of the sural nerve (SU), input from muscle by stimulation of the gastrocnemius-soleus nerves (GS). To block the (non-nociceptive) TTX-s afferents, a pool containing TTX (concentration 1microM) was built around the dorsal roots L3-L6. As a measure of synaptic activity, the area of averaged SFPs was determined. After TTX application, the SFPs of fast conducting myelinated afferent fibres vanished completely. Simultaneously, the size of the potentials evoked by electrical stimulation of slowly conducting TTX-r skin and muscle afferents increased significantly. The field potentials of TTX-r GS afferents had a maximum in laminae IV-VI of the dorsal horn, whereas the SFPs induced by SU stimulation were more evenly distributed over all laminae. The results are a further indication that nociceptive input from skin and muscle is differently processed at the spinal level.

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