Two types of jaw-muscle spindle afferents in the cat as demonstrated by intra-axonal staining with HRP

Brain Res. 1990 Apr 30;514(2):219-37. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(90)91418-g.


Intra-axonal records and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) injection techniques were employed to define the response properties of the jaw-closing muscle spindle afferents in the trigeminal mesencephalic nucleus (Vmes) and their morphological characteristics. The axonal trajectories of 9 spindle afferents from the masseter and 4 afferents from the temporalis were recovered for detailed analyses. Of 13 afferents, 6 cell bodies were stained and they were located at the rostrocaudal mid-levels of the Vmes. The central courses of the stem fibers were organized in a similar manner to the Vmes periodontal afferent nerves with the exception that peripheral (P) fibers of all spindle afferents passed through the trigeminal motor tract and root. On the basis of collateral terminal arborizations, the Vmes spindle afferents could be classified into two types: type I (n = 6) and type II (n = 7). Type I afferents sent their collaterals into the trigeminal motor nucleus (Vmo), intertrigeminal region (Vint) and juxtatrigeminal region (Vjux), but collaterals from the two neurons also projected to Vmes and the nucleus oralis (Vo). The collaterals from type II afferents formed their terminal arbors in the supratrigeminal nucleus (Vsup) in addition to the Vmo, Vint and Vjux, but collaterals from one neuron also projected to the Vo. In type I afferents, terminal arbors encompassed the whole Vmo including jaw-closing motoneurons. In contrast, boutons from type II afferents were restricted to a few small portions within the Vmo in proximity to its lateral and dorsal boundaries. The diameters of the united (U), central (C) and peripheral (P), fibers were larger in type I than type II afferents; those of the U fibers were statistically significant. Any differences between the two distinct types were not found in the response pattern to the sustained jaw opening. These results suggest that the difference of primary and secondary muscle-spindle afferent nerves is reflected in a distinctive morphology in the terminal arborizations and in the diameters of united fibers rather than the response patterns in deeply anesthetized cats.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Jaw / physiology*
  • Masticatory Muscles / cytology
  • Masticatory Muscles / innervation*
  • Mesencephalon / cytology*
  • Mesencephalon / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / cytology*
  • Trigeminal Nuclei / physiology


  • Horseradish Peroxidase