Low-Frequency Depression of the Monosynaptic Reflex is Not Altered By Tetrodotoxin-Induced Nerve Conduction Blockade

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The present study is part of ongoing investigations into activity-related synaptic plasticity in the intact animal. In this investigation we sought to determine whether the previously reported increase in synaptic efficacy at the Ia-motoneuron connection following nerve conduction blockade could be attributed to changes in circuitry external to the monosynaptic pathway. Specifically, we used the phenomena of low-frequency depression of the extracellularly recorded group I monosynaptic reflex (MSR) as an indirect measure of presynaptic inhibition. Tibial nerve conduction blockade was achieved by superfusion of the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX). An osmotic pump delivered the TTX to the tibial branch of the sciatic nerve for a period of either 3 or 10 days. Control rats were either unoperated or received implants of pumps not containing TTX. Data collection consisted of tibial nerve stimulation (0.1-20 Hz) with bilateral recordings of the MSR from the L5 ventral roots. The extent of low-frequency depression was compared between treated and untreated sides of TTX-treated animals and between treated and untreated animals. Results showed that the extent of low-frequency depression was unchanged by either 3 or 10 days of complete blockade of tibial afferents. On the basis of this finding, it is concluded that the previously reported TTX-induced increase in Ia excitatory postsynaptic potential amplitude is unlikely to be due to changes in presynaptic inhibitory pathways.

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