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Dorsal horn (convergent) neurones in the intact anaesthetized arthritic rat. II. Heterotopic inhibitory influences.

  • Calvino, B
  • Villanueva, L
  • Le Bars, D
Published Article
Publication Date
Dec 01, 1987
PMID: 3696751


Recordings were made from dorsal horn neurones in the spinal cord and trigeminal nucleus caudalis of intact anaesthetized rats. These rats had been rendered polyarthritic by s.c. injection of Mycobacterium butyricum suspended in oil into the base of the tail. The experiments were carried out during the acute phase of the illness (3-4 weeks post inoculation) during which hyperalgesia occurred. The disease mainly affected the hind paws and the tail and, to a lesser extent, the forepaws. The facial area of the animals was not at all affected. As described in a previous paper, recordings from lumbar dorsal horn neurones revealed that two subpopulations could be described on the basis of their electrophysiological characteristics. Namely, 'typical' units which include convergent, non-noxious and proprioceptive neurones and which have properties essentially similar to those found in healthy rats, and 'atypical' cells which have no counterpart in healthy rats and which include convergent and non-noxious neurones. All the typical convergent neurones were inhibited by noxious stimuli applied to heterotopic body areas, whereas typical non-noxious and proprioceptive neurones were not; these observations are similar to those described in healthy rats as diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC). However, it was also found that 88% of the atypical convergent and 85% of the atypical non-noxious cells were inhibited by various heterotopic stimuli. The most important observation was that gentle stimulation such as mild pressure applied to the inflamed contralateral ankle joint--a stimulus intensity which has never been found to be effective in healthy animals--was capable of triggering inhibition of both typical and atypical convergent neurones. Recordings from trigeminal nucleus caudalis neurones revealed that the entire population presented essentially the same properties as those observed in healthy animals in terms of activity evoked by natural or electrical stimulation of their excitatory receptive fields. The activity of non-noxious neurones was never modified by any heterotopically applied stimuli. By contrast, all convergent neurones were inhibited by heterotopic stimuli, noxious (52 degrees C, pinch) or non-noxious (light and mild pressure), applied to inflamed areas. While the inhibition triggered by noxious stimuli was reminiscent of that observed in healthy rats, the inhibition triggered by non-noxious mechanical stimuli was related to the inflammatory state of the part of the body stimulated, the most sensitive areas being the hind paws.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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