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Anat Rec. 1986 May;215(1):71-81.

Fiber composition of the rat sciatic nerve.


The rat sciatic nerve originates from the spinal segments L4-L6. It is unifascicular at the trochanter; 5-7 mm distally, the nerve splits into two and then into four fascicles. The tibial portion gives rise to the tibial and the sural nerves, and the peroneal portion gives rise to the peroneal nerve and a cutaneous branch that perforates the lateral hamstring muscles to innervate the proximolateral face of the calf. The number and type of the axons in these branches were determined in light and electron micrographs of normal nerves, and after de-efferentation or sympathectomy. Deafferentation was technically not feasible because spinal ganglia and ventral roots were supplied by the same vascular plexus. The tibial nerve contained 1,000 motor and 3,500 myelinated afferent axons, 3,700 sympathetic axons, and 5,400 unmyelinated afferent axons. The peroneal nerve contained 600 motor and 1,300 myelinated afferent axons, 1,100 sympathetic axons and 3,000 unmyelinated afferent axons. The sural nerve contained 1,100 myelinated and 2,800 unmyelinated afferent axons; in addition, there were 1,500 unmyelinated sympathetic axons. The cutaneous branch consisted of 400 myelinated and 1,800 unmyelinated afferent axons. Thus, the entire sciatic nerve at midthigh is composed of about 27,000 axons; 6% are myelinated motor axons, 23% and 48% are myelinated and unmyelinated sensory axons, respectively, and 23% are unmyelinated sympathetic axons. The techniques used did not demonstrate sympathetic axons in the cutaneous branch and did not reveal the few motor axons contained in the sural nerve.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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