Properties of somata of spinal dorsal root ganglion cells differ according to peripheral receptor innervated

J Neurophysiol. 1988 Nov;60(5):1584-96. doi: 10.1152/jn.1988.60.5.1584.


1. Intracellular recordings were made in the somata of dorsal root ganglion cells in the L7 or S1 DRG in cats anesthetized with alpha-chloralose. The properties of the action potentials (amplitude, duration, peak rate of rise), duration of afterhyperpolarization (AHP), magnitude of inward rectification, and axonal conduction velocity were measured. The adequate stimulus was determined, and the extent to which these properties are correlated was investigated. 2. All cells with receptive fields could be classified as mechanoreceptors. Most cells with A-beta-axons (greater than 36 m/s) could be activated by gentle mechanical stimulation but a small minority with conduction velocity in the low end of the A-beta-range were nociceptors. Cells with A-delta-axons (2-36 m/s) innervated either the very sensitive Down hair follicles (D-hairs) or high-threshold mechanoreceptors (HTMRs). In addition a group of A-delta-fibers was found for which no receptive field could be described. Their spikes, AHPs, and membrane properties were indistinguishable from those of cells supplying HTMRs (see below) and they were lumped together with A-delta-HTMRs. 3. A-beta-neurons exhibited smaller, briefer spikes than A-delta-neurons, even those supplying D-hairs. Peak rate of rise (dV/dt)max and inward rectification were significantly larger in A-beta-cells than in A-delta s, whereas AHP duration and input resistance were smaller. However, the values of these parameters in cells of a given conduction velocity range were generally associated with receptor type. 4. A-delta-HTMRs exhibited spikes of greater amplitude and duration, longer AHP duration, and smaller inward rectification than D-hairs. The long duration of these spikes was due largely to a prominent hump on their descending limb. Input resistance was similar in both groups of cells. 5. A-beta-HTMRs differed from A-beta-cells innervating low threshold receptors in the same general way that A-delta-HTMRs differed from D-hairs. However, A-beta-LTMRs supplying different receptor types (e.g., slowly adapting type I, Pacinian corpuscles, etc.) exhibited no correlation between receptor type and electrophysiology of the soma. 6. These differences in spike parameters occur at the level of the membrane rather than in the degree of somal invasion because the largest amplitude spikes also exhibited the slowest time course (i.e., in HTMRs). Systematic variation in AHP duration and inward rectification also suggest differences in the proportions of ionic channel types among these cells.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / classification
  • Cats
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology*
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neurons / classification
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Reaction Time