Neural pathways between sacrocaudal afferents and lumbar pattern generators in neonatal rats

I. Strauss, A. Lev-Tov*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Projections of sacrocaudal afferents (SCA) onto lumbar pattern generators were studied in isolated spinal cords of neonatal rats. A locomotor-like pattern could be produced by SCA stimulation in the majority of the preparations. The SCA-induced lumbar rhythm was abolished after blocking synaptic transmission in the sacrococcygeal (SC) cord by bathing its segments in a low-calcium, high-magnesium artificial cerebrospinal fluid and restored when the synaptic block was alleviated by local application of calcium onto specific SC segments prior to SCA stimulation. Thus the SCA evoked lumbar rhythm involves synaptic activation of relay neurons in the SC cord. Functional activation of these relays depends on non-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors because the lumbar rhythm was abolished when the non-NMDA receptor antagonist CNQX was added to the SC cord. By contrast, pharmacological block of the rhythmicity in the SC cord by specific antagonists of NMDA receptors and α1 and α2 adrenoceptors did not impair the SCA-induced lumbar rhythm. Midsagittal splitting experiments of parts of the SC and lumbar cord revealed that crossed and uncrossed ascending/propriospinal pathways are coactivated by SCA stimulation. We suggest that these pathways ascend onto the thoracolumbar cord through the lateral, ventrolateral, and ventral funiculi, because a complete block of the lumbar rhythm could only be obtained with a bilateral interruption of all of these funiculi. The relevance of our findings to the neural control of the rhythmogenic networks in the spinal cord is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)773-784
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


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