|H-reflex up-conditioning encourages recovery of EMG activity and H-reflexes after sciatic nerve transection and repair in rats.
|Year of Publication
|Chen, Y, Wang, Y, Chen, L, Sun, C, English, AW, Wolpaw, J, Chen, XY
|The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
|conditioning, peripheral nerve, plasticity, Reflex, regeneration, Spinal Cord
Operant conditioning of the spinal stretch reflex or its electrical analog, the H-reflex, produces spinal cord plasticity and can thereby affect motoneuron responses to primary afferent input. To explore whether this conditioning can affect the functional outcome after peripheral nerve injury, we assessed the effect of up-conditioning soleus (SOL) H-reflex on SOL and tibialis anterior (TA) function after sciatic nerve transection and repair. Sprague Dawley rats were implanted with EMG electrodes in SOL and TA and stimulating cuffs on the posterior tibial nerve. After control data collection, the sciatic nerve was transected and repaired and the rat was exposed for 120 d to continued control data collection (TC rats) or SOL H-reflex up-conditioning (TU rats). At the end of data collection, motoneurons that had reinnervated SOL and TA were labeled retrogradely. Putative primary afferent terminals [i.e., terminals containing vesicular glutamate transporter-1 (VGLUT1)] on SOL motoneurons were studied immunohistochemically. SOL (and probably TA) background EMG activity recovered faster in TU rats than in TC rats, and the final recovered SOL H-reflex was significantly larger in TU than in TC rats. TU and TC rats had significantly fewer labeled motoneurons and higher proportions of double-labeled motoneurons than untransected rats. VGLUT1 terminals were significantly more numerous on SOL motoneurons of TU than TC rats. Combined with the larger H-reflexes in TU rats, this anatomical finding supports the hypothesis that SOL H-reflex up-conditioning strengthened primary afferent reinnervation of SOL motoneurons. These results suggest that H-reflex up-conditioning may improve functional recovery after nerve injury and repair.