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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1986 Apr;60(4):1107-15.

Biophysical studies of mechanoreceptors.


Mechanoreception can be viewed as a series of sequential mechanical and ionic processes that take place in mechanosensitive end organs and in the terminals of the nerves that innervate them. Stimuli act on a transducer after being transmitted through some material having a combination of elastic and viscoelastic properties. Channels that open under membrane loading have recently been described in muscle cells and are presented as a model for transduction. When open these channels are cation specific. Ions passing through transducer channels depolarize a spike-initiating zone on the cell. These currents may also activate other conductances in the cell, so that the total generator current may have many components. In many mechanoreceptors, action potential initiation results in activation of an electrogenic Na+ pump at the spike-initiation zone, which modifies the threshold for subsequent action potentials. Action potentials initiated in the many branches of a single sensory axon interact at the branching point of the axon. The rules governing this interaction are complex. The above factors, together or separately, are responsible for the dynamic responses and adaptation observed in mechanoreceptors.

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