A new method to study sensory modulation of locomotor networks by activation of thermosensitive cutaneous afferents using a hindlimb attached spinal cord preparation

J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Sep 15;182(2):255-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2009.06.011. Epub 2009 Jun 18.


The use of isolated in vitro spinal cord preparations to examine the underlying networks that control locomotion has become popular. It is also well known that afferent feedback can excite and modulate these networks. However, it is often difficult to selectively activate classes of afferents that subserve specific modalities using in vitro preparations. Here, we describe a technique where afferent receptors that detect temperature were selectively activated. To accomplish this we used an in vitro preparation of the mouse where the spinal cord was isolated (T5-cauda equina) with one hind limb left attached. We designed a special chamber allowing the hind paw to be placed in such a way that it remained attached to the spinal cord but received a separate supply of artificial cerebrospinal fluid (aCSF). This allowed us to alter the temperature of the hind limb compartment without affecting the temperature of the central compartment containing the spinal cord. We also demonstrate using this approach that agonists which activate receptors which detect noxious heat could be intradermally injected into the hind limb without it diffusing into the central compartment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cauda Equina / physiology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Dopamine / pharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / pharmacology
  • Hindlimb / innervation*
  • Hindlimb / physiology*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Mice
  • N-Methylaspartate / pharmacology
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Sensation / drug effects
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • TRPV Cation Channels / physiology
  • Thermoreceptors / drug effects
  • Thermoreceptors / physiology*
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels / physiology


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • TRPV1 protein, mouse
  • Transient Receptor Potential Channels
  • Serotonin
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • Capsaicin
  • Dopamine