Evidence for the maintenance of motoneurone properties by muscle activity

J Physiol. 1978 Aug;281:239-52. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1978.sp012419.

Abstract

1. Electrophysiological properties of soleus motoneurones in adult cats were examined with intracellular electrodes following alterations of activity of the soleus muscle induced by transection of the thoracic spinal cord or by conduction block of the muscle nerve with tetrodotoxin (TTX) cuffs. Attempts were also made to maintain muscle activity by daily stimulation of the maintain muscle activity by daily stimulation of the peripheral nerve. 2. Within 8 days after transection of the thoracic cord, soleus motoneurones showed a significant decrease in the duration of afterhyperpolarization following action potentials. This change in motoneurone properties induced by cord transection was prevented by daily stimulation of the sciatic nerve. 3. Soleus motoneurones showed a significant decrease in the duration of after-hyperpolarization within 8 days after conduction block of the soleus nerve with TTX. This change in montoneurone properties was prevented by daily stimulation of the nerve peripheral to the TTX cuff but not central to the cuff. 4. The soleus muscle showed a significant decrease in weight relative to body weight within 8 days after transection of the thoracic cord. This decrease in muscle weight following cord transection was prevented by daily stimulation of the sciatic nerve. 5. No fibrillation was detected in the soleus muscle 8 days after conduction block of the soleus nerve with TTX. The maximum twitch tension of the soleus muscle evoked by nerve stimulation showed no significant difference between the two sides treated and untreated with TTX. Fast axoplasmic transport measured with cholinesterase as a marker was not affected by TTX. Thus, there was no sign of functional although morphological abnormalities were found in some nerve fibres. 6. It is concluded that motoneurone properties in an adult depend partly upon some factors associated with activity of the innervated muscles and that such trophic signals are retrogradely carried by the motor axons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Cats
  • Cordotomy
  • Female
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neural Conduction / drug effects
  • Organ Size
  • Tetrodotoxin / pharmacology

Substances

  • Tetrodotoxin