An analysis of response properties of spinal cord dorsal horn neurones to nonnoxious and noxious stimuli in the spinal rat

D. Menétrey, G. J. Giesler, J. M. Besson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

225 Scopus citations


Electrophysiological properties of neurones in the spinal cord dorsal horn were studied in decerebrated, immobilized spinal rats. Extracellular recordings were performed at the thoraco-lumbar junction level. Each track was systematically located by extracellular injection of pontamine sky blue. According to their responses to mechanical peripheral stimuli, cells were classified in four classes: Class 1 cells: Cells activated only by nonnoxious stimuli. They were divided into - 1A: hair movement and/or touch and 1B: hair movement and/or touch and pressure or pressure only. Class 2 cells: Cells driven by both nonnoxious and noxious stimuli, divided into - 2A: hair movement and/or touch, pressure, pinch and/or pin-prick, and 2B: pressure, pinch and/or pin-prick. Class 3 cells: Cells only activated by noxious stimuli (pinch and/or pin-prick). Class 4 cells: Cells responding to joint movement or pressure on deep tissues. Peripheral transcutaneous or sural nerve stimulation clearly showed that class 1 cells were activated only by A fiber input while 68% of classes 2 and 3 cells received A and C input. Histological examination indicated that cells driven only by noxious input were located either in the deepest part or in the marginal zone (lamina I) of the dorsal horn. Nevertheless, some lamina I cells were also driven by both nonnoxious and noxious stimuli. In addition, there is a great deal of overlap between class 1 and class 2 cells. This fact was confirmed by considering the wide distribution in the dorsal horn of cells receiving A and C input. However, spinal organization of the different classes of cells consists of a preferential distribution rather than a strict lamination. This study indicates that properties of dorsal horn interneurones in the rat have a high degree of similarity with those previously described in other species (cat and monkey).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-33
Number of pages19
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1977


  • Dorsal horn interneurones
  • Pain mechanisms
  • Rat
  • Spinal cord


Dive into the research topics of 'An analysis of response properties of spinal cord dorsal horn neurones to nonnoxious and noxious stimuli in the spinal rat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this