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Capsaicin-sensitive muscle afferents modulate the monosynaptic reflex in response to muscle ischemia and fatigue in the rat.

G. Della Torre, O. Brunetti, V. E. Pettorossi


The role of muscle ischemia and fatigue in modulating the monosynaptic reflex was investigated in decerebrate and spinalized rats. Field potentials and fast motoneuron single units in the lateral gastrocnemious (LG) motor pool were evoked by dorsal root stimulation. Muscle ischemia was induced by occluding the LG vascular supply and muscle fatigue by prolonged tetanic electrical stimulation of the LG motor nerve. Under muscle ischemia the monosynaptic reflex was facilitated since the size of the early and late waves of the field potential and the excitability of the motoneuron units increased. This effect was abolished after L3-L6 dorsal rhizotomy, but it was unaffected after L3-L6 ventral rhizotomy. By contrast, the monosynaptic reflex was inhibited by muscle fatiguing stimulation, and this effect did not fully depend on the integrity of the dorsal root. However, when ischemia was combined with repetitive tetanic muscle stimulation the inhibitory effect of fatigue was significantly enhanced. Both the ischemia and fatigue effects were abolished by capsaicin injected into the LG muscle at a dose that blocked a large number of group III and IV muscle afferents. We concluded that muscle ischemia and fatigue activate different groups of muscle afferents that are both sensitive to capsaicin, but enter the spinal cord through different roots. They are responsible for opposite effects, when given separately: facilitation during ischemia and inhibition during fatigue; however, in combination, ischemia enhances the responsiveness of the afferent fibres to fatigue.

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