Properties of propriospinal neurons in the C3-C4 segments mediating disynaptic pyramidal excitation to forelimb motoneurons in the macaque monkey

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jun;95(6):3674-85. doi: 10.1152/jn.00103.2005. Epub 2006 Feb 22.


Candidate propriospinal neurons (PNs) that mediate disynaptic pyramidal excitation to forelimb motoneurons were studied in the C3-C4 segments in anesthetized macaque monkeys (n = 10). A total of 177 neurons were recorded (145 extracellularly, 48 intracellularly, and 16 both) in laminae VI-VII. Among these, 86 neurons (73 extracellularly, 14 intracellularly and 1 both) were antidromically activated from the forelimb motor nucleus or from the ventrolateral funiculus just lateral to the motor nucleus in the C6/C7 segments and thus are identified as PNs. Among the 73 extracellularly recorded PNs, 60 cells were fired by a train of four stimuli to the contralateral pyramid with segmental latencies of 0.8-2.2 ms, with most of them (n = 52) in a monosynaptic range (<1.4 ms including one synaptic delay and time to firing). The firing probability was only 21% from the third pyramidal volley but increased to 83% after intravenous injection of strychnine. In most of the intracellularly recorded PNs, stimulation of the contralateral pyramid evoked monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs, 12/14) and disynaptic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (14/14), which were found to be glycinergic. In contrast, cells that did not project to the C6-Th1 segments where forelimb motoneurons are located were classified as segmental interneurons. These were fired from the third pyramidal volley with a probability of 71% before injection of strychnine. It is proposed that some of these interneurons mediate feed-forward inhibition to the PNs. These results suggest that the C3-C4 PNs receive feed-forward inhibition from the pyramid in addition to monosynaptic excitation and that this inhibition is stronger in the macaque monkey than in the cat. Another difference with the cat was that only 26 of the 86 PNs (30%, as compared with 84% in the cat) with projection to the forelimb motor nuclei send ascending collaterals terminating in the lateral reticular nucleus (LRN) on the ipsilateral side of the medulla. Thus we identified C3-C4 PNs that could mediate disynaptic pyramidal excitation to forelimb motoneurons in the macaque monkey. The present findings explain why it was difficult in previous studies of the macaque monkey to evoke disynaptic pyramidal excitation via C3-C4 PNs in forelimb motoneurons and why-as compared with the cat-the monosynaptic EPSPs evoked from the LRN via C3-C4 PNs were smaller in amplitude.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Macaca
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*