Structure of the intraspinal projections of single, identified muscle spindle afferents from neck muscles of the cat

S. A. Keirstead, P. K. Rose

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Abstract

The morphology and frequency of collaterals originating from single afferents supplying primary endings of muscle spindles in dorsal neck muscles have been examined using intraaxonal injections of HRP. Within the segment in which the afferent entered the spinal cord, one collateral was found for every 3.3 mm of stained axon. In contrast, afferents - one of more segments rostral to the segment in which they entered the spinal cord - had fewer collaterals: One collateral was found for every 6.3 mm of stained axon. The branching structure and terminal distribution of the collaterals were generally similar regardless of the muscle from which the afferent originated and the segment in which the collateral was found. Boutons were found in 2 zones: One of these was located in the intermediate zone, within and around the central cervical nucleus, and the other was found in laminae VIII and IX, including the motoneuron nuclei. The ventral termination zone of collaterals in the same segment as their parent axon entered the spinal cord was larger and had more boutons than the same projection of collaterals whose parenbt axon entered the spinal cord 1 or 2 segments caudal to the segment in which the collateral was found. These results indicate that afferents supplying primary endings of neck muscle spindles are more likely to contact neurons in the same segment in which the afferent enters the spinal cord than in more rostral segments. However, even within the same segment in which the afferent enters the spinal cord, the projection of neck muscle afferents to the ventral horn is less dense than the corresponding projection of hindlimb muscle spindle afferents in the lumbosacral spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3413-3426
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume8
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1988

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