Presynaptic inhibition of the sensory input from the periphery to the spinal cord can be evaluated directly by intra-axonal recording of primary afferent depolarization (PAD) or indirectly by intraspinal microstimulation (excitability testing). Excitability testing is superior for use in normal behaving animals, because this methodology bypasses the technically challenging intra-axonal recording. However, use of excitability testing on the muscle or joint afferent in intact animals presents its own technical challenges. Because these afferents, in many cases, are mixed with motor axons in the peripheral nervous system, it is crucial to dissociate antidromic volleys in the primary afferents from orthodromic volleys in the motor axon, both of which are evoked by intraspinal microstimulation. We have demonstrated in rats that application of a paired stimulation protocol with a short interstimulus interval (ISI) successfully dissociated the antidromic volley in the nerve innervating the medial gastrocnemius muscle. By using a 2-ms ISI, the amplitude of the volleys evoked by the second stimulation was decreased in dorsal root-sectioned rats, but the amplitude did not change or was slightly increased in ventral root-sectioned rats. Excitability testing in rats with intact spinal roots indicated that the putative antidromic volleys exhibited dominant primary afferent depolarization, which was reasonably induced from the more dorsal side of the spinal cord. We concluded that excitability testing with a paired-pulse protocol can be used for studying presynaptic inhibition of somatosensory afferents in animals with intact spinal roots.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Excitability testing of primary afferents has been used to evaluate presynaptic modulation of synaptic transmission in experiments conducted in vivo. However, to apply this method to muscle afferents of animals with intact spinal roots, it is crucial to dissociate antidromic and orthodromic volleys induced by spinal microstimulation. We propose a new method to make this dissociation possible without cutting spinal roots and demonstrate that it facilitates excitability testing of muscle afferents.
- presynaptic inhibition
- muscle afferent
- excitability testing
- intact ventral root
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