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J Comp Neurol. 1987 Jan 15;255(3):351-68.

Quantitative analysis of cervical musculature in rats: histochemical composition and motor pool organization. I. Muscles of the spinal accessory complex.


In this paper we characterize the architecture and segmental innervation, histochemical composition, muscle spindle populations, and motor pool organization of rat spinal accessory (SA) muscles: sternomastoid (SM), cleidomastoid (CM), cleidotrapezius (CT), and acromiotrapezius (AT). We also consider whether individual rat neck muscles are supplied by more than one population of motor neurons as they are in turtles and cats and whether in SA muscles motor neuron size scales with target muscle fiber type. SM, CM, and CT are ventral, parallel strap muscles. Each can be divided into grossly visible white and red compartments. AT is a dorsolateral sheetlike muscle that shows no gross compartmentalization. All four muscles are dominated by fast-twitch glycolytic (FG) and fast oxidative glycolytic (FOG) fibers, and FG fibers are significantly more numerous than the FOG type in three out of four muscles. Thus SA muscles in rats appear to be specialized for rapid, phasic head movements. Topographical analyses revealed that there is a striking compartmentalization of fiber types in the ventral muscles that corresponds to the red and white segments seen grossly. Spindles are found only in regions containing slow-twitch oxidative (SO) fibers. Cross-muscle comparisons indicate that there are significant differences between SA muscles in their fiber type composition. The motor pools of SA muscles form a single column from lower medulla to C5. Rostral cells lie dorsomedially in the ventral horn and, at the C1/C2 junction, the column shifts ventrolaterally. Within this column, each motor pool occupies a characteristic rostrocaudal position in the order SM:CM:CT:AT. Thus SM and (in part) CM motor neurons lie more medially than cells supplying the trapezius complex, suggesting that they may be under different patterns of synaptic drive. We saw no evidence that rat SA muscles are supplied by more than one population of motor neurons. Direct comparisons between the soma sizes of motor neurons that supply muscles or parts of muscles with significantly different histochemical compositions indicate that these size differences are in the direction predicted from their histochemical profiles, thus suggesting that in these muscles motor neuron soma size may scale with muscle fiber type.

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