Lamina VIII interneurones interposed in crossed reflex pathways in the cat

J Physiol. 1986 Feb:371:147-66. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1986.sp015965.


The location of a group of interneurones projecting to contralateral motor nuclei has been established using retrograde transneuronal transport of horseradish peroxidase conjugated with wheat germ agglutinin (WGA-HRP). After labelling the motoneurones of semitendinosus, medial gastrocnemius or quadriceps muscles, interneurones which were secondarily labelled were found in lamina VIII and in the neighbouring narrow strip of lamina VII. They were found to be distributed from the 4th lumbar to the 1st sacral segments, with the highest concentration in the 6th and 7th lumbar segments and at the border between the 4th and 5th lumbar segments. The electrophysiological properties of lamina VIII interneurones of the 6th lumbar segment have been investigated using both extracellular and intracellular recording. Many of these interneurones could be antidromically activated following weak stimuli applied in contralateral motor nuclei. Post-synaptic potentials were evoked from a variety of primary afferents including group I muscle afferents. However, when present, the post-synaptic potentials (p.s.p.s) of group I origin were of considerably smaller amplitudes than p.s.p.s. evoked from higher threshold muscle or cutaneous afferents and smaller than p.s.p.s. which followed stimulation of the spinal cord at the thoracic level. P.s.p.s. from the latter two sources appear to constitute the main input to lamina VIII interneurones. Group I input has been found in forty lamina VIII interneurones. These were usually affected by either ipsilateral or contralateral group I afferents and only exceptionally by both. Excitatory post-synaptic potentials (e.p.s.p.s) from ipsilateral afferents were evoked in about twice as many neurones as e.p.s.p.s from the contralateral afferents. E.p.s.p.s were often accompanied by inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (i.p.s.p.s). Group Ia afferents appeared to contribute to both e.p.s.p.s and i.p.s.p.s, whether these were evoked from ipsilateral or from contralateral afferents. In several cases Ia afferents were as effective as all group I afferents while in other cases Ib afferents appeared to be an important or even the exclusive source of the p.s.p.s. The latencies of e.p.s.p.s indicated that they were evoked mono-, di- or trisynaptically from ipsilateral group I afferents and di- or trisynaptically from contralateral afferents, I.p.s.p.s appeared to be evoked via pathways with only one additional interneurone. About one-third of all the intracellularly investigated lamina VIII interneurones were both affected by group I afferents and antidromically activated from the contralateral motor nuclei.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Hindlimb
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Reflex / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology