This study was undertaken to test the hypothesis that group III and IV afferents with endings in skeletal muscle signal the distension of the peripheral vascular network. The responses of these slowly conducting afferents to pharmacologically induced vasodilation and to acute obstruction of the venous drainage of the hindlimbs were studied in barbiturate- anesthetized cats. Afferent impulses arising from endings in the triceps surae muscles were recorded from the L7 and S1 dorsal roots. Fifteen of the 48 group IV and 3 of the 19 group III afferents tested were stimulated by intra-aortic injections of papaverine (2-2.5 mg/kg). Sixty-two percent of the afferents that responded to papaverine also responded to isoproterenol (50 μg/kg). Seven of the 36 group IV and 2 of the 12 group III afferents tested were excited by acute distension of the hindlimb venous system. Four of the seven group IV afferents responding to venous distension also responded to papaverine (57 vs. 13% for the nonresponding). Finally, we observed that most of the group IV afferents that were excited by dynamic contractions of the triceps surae muscles also responded either to venous distension or to vasodilatory agents. These results are consistent with the histological findings that a large number of group IV endings have their receptive fields close to the venules and suggest that they can be stimulated by the deformation of these vascular structures when peripheral conductance increases. Moreover, such a mechanism offers the possibility of encoding both the effects of muscle contraction through intramuscular pressure changes and the distension of the venular system, thereby monitoring the activity of the veno-muscular pump.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physiology (medical)