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Brain Res. 1986 Jan;389(1-2):261-70.

The functional development of descending inhibitory pathways in the dorsolateral funiculus of the newborn rat spinal cord.


The postnatal development of descending inhibition in the spinal cord has been studied in the rat. Electrophysiological recordings were made in neonatal rat pups of the activity in single lumbar dorsal horn cells evoked by stimulation of the skin of the hindlimb. Descending inhibition was tested by observing the effect of stimulation of the dorsolateral funiculus (DLF) at thoracic level on the dorsal horn cell responses. In adults the DLF is known to contain descending axons from the brainstem which inhibit dorsal horn cell activity. Such inhibition was always observed in days 22-24 rat pups. At 18 days of age it was present but required higher-intensity stimulation to produce an effect. On day 12 only half the dorsal horn cells tested were inhibited by DLF stimulation and then only weakly. On day 9 no cells were inhibited. Application of horseradish peroxidase to DLF axons in the lumbar cord resulted in retrograde labelling of cells in the medulla, pons and midbrain. The labelling on day 6 was comparable to the adult. The results show that despite the early anatomical existence of a descending DLF pathway, there is no functional descending inhibition until days 10-12 of life. It is suggested that this is due to delayed maturation of crucial interneurones in the dorsal horn or to insufficient levels of 5-hydroxytryptamine or other neurochemicals in the descending DLF axon terminals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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