Previous studies suggested that activity-dependent conduction block (CB) contributes to weakness in chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). These studies, however, investigated only one nerve segment per patient, employed cervical magnetic stimulation which may be submaximal, included nerves with extremely low compound muscle action potentials (CMAPs) which precludes assessment of CB, and lacked predefined criteria for activity-dependent CB. Obtaining more robust evidence for activity-dependent CB is important because it may be treated pharmacologically. We investigated 22 nerve segments in each of 18 CIDP patients, employed supramaximal electrical stimulation, excluded nerves with markedly reduced CMAPs, and adopted criteria for activity-dependent CB. Each nerve was tested before and immediately after 60 s of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) of the relevant muscle. Per nerve segment we calculated segmental area ratio: (area proximal CMAP)/(area distal CMAP). Per nerve we calculated total area ratio: (area CMAP evoked at Erb's point)/(area most distally evoked CMAP). MVC induced no change in mean area ratios and no activity-dependent CB according to our criteria, except for one segment. MVC induced increases in distal and proximal CMAP area and duration. In segments with demyelinative slowing, MVC induced an increase in CMAP duration prolongation. Thus, in CIDP, muscle activity induces virtually no CB, but it may increase temporal dispersion of nerve action potentials.
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