Morphology of midlumbar interneurones relaying information from group II muscle afferents in the cat spinal cord

J Comp Neurol. 1989 Dec 1;290(1):1-15. doi: 10.1002/cne.902900102.


The morphology of midlumbar interneurones with peripheral input from group II muscle afferents was analysed after intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Twenty-three interneurones were stained intrasomatically and five others intra-axonally. The majority (10 of 13) of interneurones located in lamina VII (intermediate zone and ventral horn interneurones) were found to project ipsilaterally. They had medium-sized somata and dendrites projecting radially over a distance of more than 1 mm. All of these neurones had axons that projected caudally within the ventral part of the lateral funiculus or in the lateral part of the ventral funiculus, although four had in addition an ascending secondary axonal branch. Numerous axon collaterals were given off from these axons, both before and after they left the grey matter. The collaterals arborized within laminae VII, VIII, and IX, where they covered the area of several motor nuclei. Intra-axonal labelling of five neurones with similar input and axon trajectories revealed several axon collaterals given off between the cell body and the terminal projection areas in L7 or S1 segments. Only three of the labelled interneurones located in lamina VII and displaying the same kind of input had axons with different destinations; their axons crossed to the opposite side of the spinal cord and ascended within the contralateral ventral funiculus. These were large neurones with extensive dendritic trees, which had fairly thick axons with initial axon collaterals that branched primarily ipsilaterally (within laminae V-VIII). Interneurones located in lamina V and in the bordering parts of laminae IV and VI (dorsal horn interneurones; n = 10) constituted a very nonhomogenous population. They projected either ipsilaterally or contralaterally and had either ascending or descending axons running in either the lateral or ventral funiculi. Generally, dorsal horn interneurones had cell bodies smaller than those of intermediate zone and ventral horn interneurones, and their dendrites extended less extensively and less uniformly around the soma. Their initial axon collaterals branched primarily in the dorsal horn, or in lamina VII, but not in or close to the motor nuclei. Our results support the conclusions of previous physiological studies that the intermediate zone and ventral horn midlumbar interneurones with group II input and that project to motor nuclei have collateral actions on other interneurones in the L4-L6 segments, and that dorsal horn interneurones do not project to motoneurones, but have as their targets other interneurones or ascending cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Horseradish Peroxidase
  • Interneurons / cytology*
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology


  • Horseradish Peroxidase