Velocity recovery cycles of single C fibres innervating rat skin

Annette George, Jordi Serra, Xavier Navarro, Hugh Bostock

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45 Citations (Scopus)


To improve knowledge about axonal membrane properties in nociceptive and non-nociceptive C fibres, we studied impulse-dependent velocity changes by in vivo microneurography in the rat sciatic nerve. Cutaneous C fibres were classified, based primarily on their activity-dependent slowing profile, as Type 1A (mechano-responsive nociceptors; CMR; n=23), Type 1B (mechano-insensitive nociceptors; CMI; n=24), Type 2 (cold units; n=2), Type 3 units (unknown function; n=4) or Type 4 (presumed sympathetics; n=23) units. They were excited by single, double and triple electrical stimuli to the skin at mean rates of 0.25, 0.5, 1 and 2 Hz and with interstimulus intervals ranging from 2 to 1000 ms. All CMRs exhibited only postspike subnormality at 0.25 and 0.5 Hz. They gradually developed supernormality with higher stimulation rates, and 12/19 CMRs were supernormal at 1 Hz. The CMIs showed a greater tendency towards supernormality, with 10/21 already supernormal at 0.25 Hz, 17/24 at 0.5 Hz and all were supernormal at 1 Hz. In some CMIs but in none of the CMRs, the supernormal period was directly followed by a peak in late subnormality. Among non-nociceptive fibres, all Type 4 units exhibited long-lasting supernormality independent of the stimulation rate, whereas the cold units showed short-lived supernormality. In both, supernormality increased with higher stimulation rates. Regardless of fibre function or stimulation rate, a second conditioning stimulus always induced additional slowing, providing evidence for a passive origin of supernormality in all rat C fibre subtypes. However, the degree and time-course of extra slowing due to a preconditioning stimulus was highly dependent on fibre function and stimulation rate. These data indicate axonal membrane differences between different functional classes of C fibres, which resemble those previously described in human C fibres. © 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 The Physiological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-232
JournalJournal of Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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