Single-unit electrical activity has been recorded from 122 viscerosomatic neurons in the T9 and T11 segments of the cat's spinal cord. These neurons were excited by electrical and/or natural stimulation of visceral and somatic afferent fibers. The majority of viscerosomatic neurons (72%) received somatic nociceptive inputs, either exclusively or together with low-threshold somatic inputs. Many of these neurons were excited most strongly by intense mechanical stimulation of subcutaneous tissues, particularly by pinching or squeezing muscle. Twelve viscerosomatic neurons were excited by distensions of the biliary system at levels of biliary pressure greater than 25 mmHg. These intensities of biliary stimulation evoked transient increases in blood pressure, which suggest that the visceral stimuli were of nociceptive nature. The effects of reversible spinalization by cold block were tested on 98 viscerosomatic neurons. Three subgroups of viscerosomatic neurons were distinguished depending on whether their responses to visceral afferent stimulation were increased, decreased, or unchanged in the spinal state. Forty percent of all neurons tested increased the intensity of their responses to visceral stimulation in the spinal state. In addition, many of these neurons developed or increased their background activity and increased their somatic responses in the spinal state. It is concluded that these neurons were subjected to tonic descending inhibition of both somatic and visceral afferent inputs. More than 40% of the neurons in this group were located in or close to lamina V of the dorsal horn. In 44% of all neurons tested the response to visceral stimulation was reduced or abolished by spinalization. The background activity was not affected in the same manner and sometimes even increased during spinalization. The responses to somatic stimuli were fully tested in 11 neurons of this group and were found to be decreased, but not abolished, in nine neurons, unchanged in one cell, and increased in another one. Many of the neurons in this group were located in the ventral horn (laminae VII and VIII). Sixteen percent of all viscerosomatic neurons tested showed no change in their responses to visceral stimulation during spinalization. It is concluded that the visceral input to viscerosomatic neurons in the lower thoracic spinal cord is under considerable descending control, which includes excitation as well as tonic inhibition of visceral afferent information. This may represent part of the widespread effects of visceral nociceptive stimulation.
|Translated title of the contribution||Effects of reversible spinalization on the visceral input to viscerosomatic neurons in the lower thoracic spinal cord of the cat|
|Pages (from-to)||785 - 796|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Neurophysiology|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 1986|