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Post-tetanic influences on primary afferent depolarization in the cat spinal cord


In the spinal cord of pentobarbitone anaesthetised cats, increases in the electrical threshold of the terminations of extensor muscle group Ia afferent fibres, produced by tetanic stimulation of either the appropriate peripheral nerve or the central termination, were associated with parallel changes in the bicuculline-sensitive reduction in electrical threshold of the termination produced synaptically by impulses in flexor muscle low threshold afferent fibres (primary afferent depolarization, PAD) or by microelectrophoretic piperidine-4-sulphonic acid (P4S), an analogue of GABA. Since this post-tetanic hyperpolarization (PTH) could be produced by tetanic stimulation of a single termination centrally, and not by peripheral stimulation of heteronymous nerves, it presumably resulted from changes intrinsic to the tetanized termination. Increases in PAD and the effectiveness of P4S were probably associated with post-tetanic activation of an electrogenic Na+/K+ pump as the predominant cause of PTH, whereas decreases may have been largely the consequence of post-tetanic increases in intracellular Ca2+ levels. These results provide further evidence that GABA is the depolarizing transmitter at axo-axonic synapses upon primary afferent terminals, and that the underlying membrane conductance increase has a reversal potential at a more depolarized level than the resting potential.

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Correspondence to D. R. Curtis.

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Gynther, B.D., Curtis, D.R. Post-tetanic influences on primary afferent depolarization in the cat spinal cord. Exp Brain Res 74, 365–374 (1989).

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Key words

  • Cat spinal cord
  • Primary afferent terminations
  • Post-tetanic hyperpolarization
  • GABA-mediated depolarization