Activity-dependent hyperpolarization and conduction block in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy

Ann Neurol. 2000 Dec;48(6):826-32.


Voluntary activity produces activity-dependent hyperpolarization of the active motor axons. The present study investigated whether this hyperpolarization produces conduction block in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Studies were performed in 10 healthy control subjects, 7 patients with CIDP, and 3 patients with multifocal motor neuropathy. The compound muscle action potential (CMAP) of the abductor pollicis brevis was recorded in response to supramaximal stimuli to the median nerve at the wrist, alternating with measurements of axonal excitability. After a maximal voluntary contraction for 60 seconds, the amplitude of the maximal CMAP was significantly reduced in symptomatic CIDP patients by 40%, but there were only slight changes in the CMAPs of healthy controls, asymptomatic CIDP patients, and multifocal motor neuropathy patients. In symptomatic CIDP patients, the activity-dependent conduction block paralleled the activity-dependent hyperpolarization and was presumably precipitated by it. In these patients, the safety margin for impulse conduction was estimated to be about 12%. Activity-dependent conduction block may be clinically important in chronic demyelinating diseases and can be demonstrated electrophysiologically if testing occurs across pathological sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscles / physiopathology
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Neuromuscular Blockade*
  • Polyradiculoneuropathy, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating / physiopathology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology