Spinal projection of spindle afferents of the longissimus lumborum muscles of the cat

Rade Durbaba, Peter Ellaway, Steve R. Rawlinson, Anthony Taylor

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The connections and monosynaptic projections of muscle spindle afferents of individual heads of the longissimus lumborum have been studied in cats by natural stimulation, by electrical stimulation and by spike-triggered averaging from single identified afferents. The spindle afferents were classified by sensitivity to vibration and by the effect of succinylcholine on their response to ramp-and-hold muscle stretches. Axonal conduction and synaptic effects were recorded as field potentials and focal synaptic potentials during systematic exploration of the spinal cord in segments L1 to L4 with extracellular metal microelectrodes, singly and in linear arrays. Ascending branches of afferent axons within the cord had a significantly higher mean conduction velocity (CV: 56.5 m s?1) than descending branches (40.8 m s?1). The CV of ascending branches was significantly positively correlated with a measure of the strength of intrafusal bag2 muscle fibre contacts, but not to a measure of bag1 contacts. Two sites of monosynaptic excitatory projection in the cord were identified, namely to the intermediate region (laminae V, VI and VII) and to ventral horn region (laminae VIII and IX). In tests of 154 single afferents, signs of central projection were detected for 60, providing 122 regions of maximum negative focal synaptic potentials (FSPs) of mean amplitude 7.51 ?V. Their longitudinal spacing indicated that axons gave off descending collaterals at intervals of 1.5–3.5 mm. Based on the amplitude of FSPs, the projection of secondary afferents is stronger than that of primaries in the intermediate region and possibly also in the ventral horn region. Evidence is also presented that spindle afferent input from different heads of the longissimus converges into any given spinal segment and that input in one spinal root projects to adjacent segments. It is concluded that the organization of the longissimus monosynaptic spindle input favours relatively tonic and diffuse stretch reflexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-675
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


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