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Brain Res. 1986 May 14;373(1-2):288-302.

Motor, sympathetic and sensory innervation of rat skeletal muscles.


This study reports on the location, number and size of motor, sympathetic and sensory neurons innervating the following muscles of rat: quadriceps femoris (QF), tibialis anterior (TA), extensor digitorum longus (EDL), peroneus longus (PL), gastrocnemius medius (GM) and soleus (SOL). Cells were labelled by application of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) to transected muscle nerves. Counts of neurons were compared with counts of myelinated (MF) and unmyelinated (UMF) fibers in normal, deafferented and chemically sympathectomized nerves. The topographical arrangement of spinal motor nuclei resembled that reported previously in other mammals and birds. Sensory somata were aggregated without precise somatotopic organization, preferentially in one of the lumbar dorsal root ganglia at a segmental level corresponding to that of the motor innervation. Because lumbar sympathetic ganglia were often poorly circumscribed, the segmental position of sympathetic ganglion cells could not be localized with certainty. Sensory and sympathetic somata demonstrated a unimodal size-frequency distribution, while QF, TA and PL motoneurons could be subdivided according to size in alpha and gamma cells. For all muscles except unsuccessfully deafferented QF, counts of motor fibers after deafferentation correlated closely with counts of labelled motoneurons. Similarly, estimates of sympathetic axons, averaging 30,7% of the UMF, in most instances exceeded only marginally the ganglion cell population. In contrast, the number of peripheral afferent fibers outnumbered markedly that of sensory cell bodies, with an average of 2.8 axons per ganglion cell.

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