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J Comp Neurol. 1988 Dec 22;278(4):570-80.

Differential projections of B and C sympathetic axons in peripheral nerves of the bullfrog.

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Department of Physiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15261.


Accumulating evidence indicates that electrophysiologically distinct subsets of sympathetic neurons selectively innervate different classes of targets. The organization of this system may therefore be reflected in the sympathetic fiber contents of peripheral nerves. To test this possibility, we have mapped the pathways followed by three groups of postganglionic sympathetic axons in the bullfrog by recording compound action potentials and by retrograde tracing with horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The axons that were studied arise from fast B, slow B, and C-type neurons in ganglia 9 and 10 at the lumbar end of the paravertebral sympathetic chain. They project to peripheral targets primarily by way of the sciatic nerve and can be distinguished by the velocities with which they conduct action potentials. Action potentials were recorded with suction electrodes from isolated preparations composed of paravertebral chain ganglia 7-10, the sciatic nerve, and branches of the sciatic nerve that supply striated muscles, skin, and the bladder. Preganglionic B fibers were selectively activated by stimulating the paravertebral chain rostral to ganglion 7, and preganglionic C fibers were selectively activated by stimulating spinal nerves 7 and 8 at points central to their rami communicantes. Compound action potentials recorded from the sciatic, peroneal, tibial, and sural nerves and from the primary trunk of the pelvic nerve were each found to contain three components produced, respectively, by fast B, slow B, and C-type sympathetic axons. Similarly, action potentials recorded from cutaneous branches of the sciatic tree were found to contain three sympathetic components. By contrast, when compound action potentials were recorded from branches of the sciatic tree that directly enter and innervate striated muscles and also the bladder, the sympathetic responses were found to arise solely from C-type axons. HRP was used to label the sympathetic neurons that project to the sartorius muscle and into the cutaneous lateral crural nerve. Retrograde transport of HRP from the sartorius muscle labeled 17 +/- 4 (mean +/- s.d.) sympathetic neurons and 27 +/- 3 spinal motoneurons while transport from the lateral crural nerve labeled 68 +/- 47 sympathetic neurons but no spinal neurons. The average somatic diameter of ganglion cells projecting to the sartorius muscle was significantly smaller than that of cells projecting to the lateral crural nerve. The electrophysiological results indicate that fast B and slow B sympathetic axons in the sciatic trunk and its primary branches project selectively into cutaneous nerves while sympathetic C axons project into all peripheral nerves.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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