Neural organization of the masseter muscle in the pig

J Comp Neurol. 1989 Feb 22;280(4):563-76. doi: 10.1002/cne.902800407.


The neural organization of the pig masseter, an architecturally and functionally compartmentalized muscle, was investigated by using dissection, glycogen depletion, evoked electromyography, and counts of axon numbers at various levels along the masseteric nerve. The masseteric nerve enters the muscle as two rostral branches, which also supply the zygomatico-mandibularis, and a more caudal main branch, which soon divides into four terminal nerves with variable distributions. Stimulation of filaments containing roughly 50 extrafusal motor axons resulted in glycogen depletion of 5-20% of the muscle fibers in very small subvolumes of the masseter; the affected subvolumes were delimited by perimysium. Electromyography after stimulation of various branches of the nerve confirmed the distributions deduced from anatomy and further indicated that axons do not branch between the rostral and main nerve branches but may occasionally do so among the more distal terminal branches of the main branch. The proximal trunk of the masseteric nerve contains about 3,500 myelinated fibers with a bimodal size distribution. Approximately 1,000 of the larger fibers were estimated to be extrafusal motor axons. Along the proximal trunk of the nerve, fibers were constantly rearranged; coupled with the observation that the locations of motor unit territories were usually not related to the position of the stimulated axons within the nerve, this suggests that the nerve trunk is not strictly ordered somatotopically.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Male
  • Masseter Muscle / cytology
  • Masseter Muscle / innervation*
  • Masticatory Muscles / innervation*
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / analysis
  • Swine