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Injections of beta-noradrenergic substances in the cerebellar anterior vermis of cats affect adaptation of the vestibulospinal reflex gain.

O. Pompeiano, D. Manzoni, P. d' Ascanio, P. Andre


In precollicular decerebrate cats, intermittent sinusoidal roll tilt of the whole animal (at 0.15 Hz, +/- 10 degrees) produced a vestibulospinal reflex (VSR), characterized by an increased EMG activity of the forelimb extensor triceps brachii during side-down and a decreased activity during side-up tilt. This reflex was first tested during and after a 3-h period of sustained animal tilt at the same parameters indicated above. An adaptive increase in gain of the VSR progressively developed in some experiments, but not in others. In a second group of experiments, however, sinusoidal roll tilt of the head (0.15 Hz, ± 10 degrees) was associated with a synchronous roll tilt of the body (at 0.15 Hz, ± 12.5 degrees). This additional stimulus led to 2.5 degrees of neck rotation, which was thus out of phase with respect to head rotation. In all these experiments, submitted to a 3-h period of sustained neck-vestibular stimulation, the gain of the VSR tested every 10-15 min consistently increased to reach the maximum at the end of the third hour of stimulation. This adaptive process was followed up to 1 h after stimulation. Microinjection into the hemivermal cortex of the cerebellar anterior lobe of the beta-noradrenergic antagonists propranolol or sotalol (0.25-0.50 microliter at 8 micrograms/microliter saline) produced only slight and short-lasting changes in the basic amplitude of the VSR, but always decreased or prevented the occurrence of the adaptive increase in gain of the VSR during sustained out of phase head-neck rotation. The same agents also suppressed the increase in gain of the VSR which occurred in some experiments during sustained roll tilt of the whole animal (at 0.15 Hz, ± 10 degrees), leading to selective stimulation of labyrinth receptors. On the other hand, the beta-noradrenergic agonist isoproterenol (0.25 microliters at 8 micrograms/microliters saline) brought to the light the adaptive process in other experiments in which no adaptation occurred during sustained animal rotation. These effects occurred when the sites of injection were located within the zone B of the cerebellar anterior vermis, which projects to the lateral vestibular nucleus. In conclusion, the results indicate that the adaptive changes affecting the gain of the VSR in decerebrate cats are facilitated by the noradrenergic afferent system acting on the cerebellar vermis through beta-adrenoceptors.

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