We previously reported that electrical or glutamate stimulation of the cervical spinal cord elicits a 40-60% decrease in renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSA) in the anesthetized rat. This sympatho-inhibition was possible, however, only after transection of the spinal cord at C1 or GABAergic inhibition of neurons in the rostral ventrolateral medulla. We postulated that cervical neurons inhibit RSA by inhibiting the activity of spinal interneurons that are antecedent to sympathetic preganglionic neurons (SPNs), and that these interneurons may be, in turn, excited by afferent signals. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that cervical neurons can inhibit visceroceptive thoracic spinal neurons. We recorded the spontaneous and evoked activity of 45 dorsal horn neurons responsive to splanchnic stimulation before, during, and after chemical or electrical stimulation of the cervical spinal cord in chloralose-anesthetized spinal rats. Cervical spinal stimulation that inhibited RSA also inhibited the spontaneous and/or evoked activity of 44 dorsal horn neurons. In addition to inhibiting splanchnic-evoked neuronal responses, cervical stimulation also inhibited respones, in the same neurones, evoked by noxious heat or light brushing of receptive dermatomes. We concluded that cervical neurons participate in propriospinal inhibition of afferent transmission and that this inhibitory system may be involved in controlling the access of afferent information to SPNs. © 1992.
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