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Brain Res. 1997 Nov 7;774(1-2):55-61.

Changes in Ib heteronymous inhibition to soleus motoneurones during cutaneous and muscle nociceptive stimulation in humans.

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Laboratorio di Neurofisiologia, Istituto di Scienze Neurologiche dell'Università, Siena, Italy.


The effects of selective tonic cutaneous and muscle pain stimulation on heteronymous Ib pathways from the gastrocnemius medialis to the soleus motoneurones were studied in five healthy human subjects. Tonic pain stimulation, monitored by a psychophysical method, was obtained by local injection of 60 mg levo-ascorbic acid (L-AS) in a volume of 0.3 ml. Nociceptive cutaneous and muscle stimulation of the dorsal foot produced opposite, long-lasting changes in heteronymous Ib pathways to soleus motoneurones: Ib facilitation during cutaneous stimulation was reversed by disinhibition during muscle stimulation. The time-course of these Ib changes strictly paralleled that of subjective pain sensation. On the contrary, when the same nociceptive stimuli were applied to the leg (at pretibial level), the differences between cutaneous and muscle pain disappeared and similar short-lasting phases of facilitation and inhibition of Ib activity were observed. It is concluded that tonic discharge of cutaneous and muscle nociceptive afferents arising from the foot have specific and opposite effects on Ib inhibitory pathways to ankle extensor motoneurones. These interactions between muscle and cutaneous nociceptive and Ib pathways may be used to change muscle synergies, thus contributing to the establishment of appropriate adaptive locomotor strategies during pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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