Mechanical sensitivity of regenerating myelinated skin and muscle afferents in the cat

Exp Brain Res. 1995;104(1):89-98. doi: 10.1007/BF00229858.


These experiments describe the responses of myelinated skin and muscle afferent nerve fibres at a neuroma to stretch, local pressure and vibration in the anaesthetised cat. The sural nerve and the nerve supplying the medial gastrocnemius were studied. Neuroma formation was encouraged by placing the cut end of the nerve in a cuff made of synthetic material (Gore-tex). By 6 days after nerve section, the two nerves contained mechanically sensitive afferents. No motor fibres appeared to be mechanically sensitive. Mechanically sensitive sural afferents responded to ramp stretch of the nerve, applied at the cuff, with a single impulse or brief burst of impulses. The majority of gastrocnemius afferents responded to stretch with slowly adapting trains of impulses. Many muscle group II afferents exhibited a steady resting discharge, while group I afferents had an intermittent or bursting resting discharge or were silent. Those group I axons which showed resting activity had a low stretch threshold and were probably Ia fibres. Many of the silent units were also stretch sensitive. It is proposed that the spontaneously active units and silent units with low stretch thresholds were Ia fibres, while silent units with high stretch thresholds were Ib fibres. Both sural and gastrocnemius afferents responded to locally applied vibration. The mean peak response frequency for sural units was 170 Hz (+/- 70 Hz SD). For gastrocnemius units it was 325 Hz (+/- 86 Hz SD). Group I muscle afferents responded to higher frequencies of vibration than group II afferents. In four experiments the nerve was treated at a site a few millimetres proximal to the point of section with the axonal transport blocker colchicine. Twenty-five millimolar colchicine blocked impulse conduction at its point of application. Nevertheless, mechanically sensitive areas developed in the nerve just proximal to the treated region. Ten millimolar colchicine did not block impulse conduction, but led to dispersion of mechanosensitive areas to more proximal regions of the mechanosensitive areas to more proximal regions of the nerve. This result suggests that the disruption of orthograde axonal transport by colchicine leads to development of mechanically sensitive areas in axons further back from their cut ends. Local application of the drugs succinyl choline, tetra-ethyl ammonium and gadolinium had no effect on levels of resting activity or on mechanical sensitivity of afferents in the cuff. The potassium channel blocker 4-aminopyridine, on the other hand, produced an increase in the levels of resting activity and in the stretch responses of afferents.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neuroma / physiopathology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Succinylcholine / pharmacology
  • Sural Nerve / cytology
  • Sural Nerve / physiology
  • Vibration


  • Ion Channels
  • Succinylcholine
  • Colchicine