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Selective deafferentation of hand cutaneous territory is followed by changes in fibre type distribution of a forearm muscle in the horse.

P. Berardinelli, A. M. Barazzoni, V. Russo, O. Brunetti, G. Della Torre, P. A. Scapolo, A. Muttini, R. Bortolami


Based on previous observations that capsaicin can selectively damage group III and IV afferents and induce muscle fibre transformation, we hypothesized that eliminating, by means of capsaicin, the group III and IV afferents of a peripheral territory it could lead to a fibre transformation in a muscle involved in the flexor reflexes of the same peripheral territory. Therefore, capsaicin was injected into the palmar nerves of the forelimb of the horse to investigate if eliminating group III and IV afferents from the hand of the horse a muscle fibre transition would occur in the flexor carpi radialis (FCR) muscle, which is involved in the flexor reflexes of the finger itself. 120 days after capsaicin injection, type I slow fibres increased and type IIA fast fibres decreased. We presume that the long lasting deafferentation of the ergo-nociceptive fibres causes a plastic remodelling in the central nervous system and indirectly influences the motoneuron excitability via short or long loop-pathways enhancing their tonic discharge.

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