The Morphology of Muscle Receptors

  • David Barker
Part of the Handbook of Sensory Physiology book series (SENSORY, volume 3 / 2)

Abstract

A skeletal muscle is such an obvious example of an effector organ that it generally comes as a surprise to learn that most of the nerve fibres innervating it are sensory. Studies of the composition of cat hindlimb muscle nerves (Boyd and Davey, 1968; Stacey, 1969) have shown that sensory axons account for about two thirds of the total somatic component; most of them are non-myelinated. All the non-myelinated sensory axons, as well as some of the myelinated ones, terminate as free endings on blood vessels and in fat and connective tissue (Stacey, 1969). Some of these function as nociceptors responding to deep pressure or to squeezing the muscle, and compare with similar receptors found in skin. The rest of the myelinated sensory axons supply two types of mechanoreceptor responding to stretch, namely, the tendon organ and the muscle spindle; a few paciniform corpuscles, such as occur more commonly in joint capsules and periarticular tissue; and occasionally one or two of the much larger Pacinian corpuscles. The small muscle fibres that compose the spindles receive their own supply of motor (γ) axons, which on average constitute 43% of the total somatic motor component in cat hindlimb muscle nerves (Boyd and Davey, 1968). The receptor equipment of a cat hindlimb muscle thus receives a very large share (81%) of the total supply of somatic nerve fibres, while the muscle fibres that execute its contractions and constitute the bulk of the organ receive the small remainder as skeletomotor (α) axons.

Keywords

Fatigue Immobilization Fibril Catecholamine Eosin 

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Barker
    • 1
  1. 1.DurhamEngland

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