Post-synaptic actions of midlumbar interneurones on motoneurones of hind-limb muscles in the cat

J Physiol. 1987 Aug;389:675-89. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1987.sp016677.


1. The hypothesis that interneurones in the 4th lumbar segment (L4) are interposed between group I and group II afferents and hind-limb motoneurones has been tested. Action potentials of single interneurones were induced by ionophoretically applied homocysteate and recorded in parallel with post-synaptic potentials in motoneurones; the latter were recorded from motor axons in the ventral root of the first sacral segment as population potentials, using the sucrose gap technique. 2. The action potentials of twenty-four L4 interneurones were found to be followed by either e.p.s.p.s. or i.p.s.p.s in motoneurones. The latencies of the majority of these p.s.p.s were consistent with monosynaptically evoked excitation or inhibition of motoneurones since they exceeded the latencies of antidromic activation of the interneurones from the S1 motor nuclei by only a fraction of a millisecond. 3. The dominant input to both the excitatory and the inhibitory interneurones was from group II muscle afferents, in particular from the quadriceps nerve. The latencies of excitation of the interneurones by these afferents indicated a monosynaptic coupling between them. The same interneurones were co-excited by group I and cutaneous afferents and by descending fibres. 4. We conclude that not only excitation but also inhibition of hind-limb motoneurones from group II afferents may be mediated disynaptically and that interneurones in the 4th lumbar segment contribute to both.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Hindlimb
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Time Factors