Journal of neurophysiology

Ipsilateral and contralateral effects on cutaneous reflexes in a back muscle of the female rat: modulation by steroids relevant for reproductive behavior.

PMID 2230928


1. Multiunit EMG recordings of cutaneous reflexes--evoked in the back extensor, lateral longissimus (LL), by bilateral stimulation of nerves to dorsal flank skin--were studied in ovariectomized female rats with and without estrogen pretreatment. 2. Poststimulus time (PST) histograms of data from rats with and without estrogen pretreatment show that the axial EMG response (10-30 ms) to ipsilateral (ipsi) flank skin nerve stimulation is significantly shorter in latency (1.4 ms) and 67% larger than the response to contralateral (contra) flank skin nerve stimulation recorded at the same site (n = 29 pairs). 3. When late EMG responses were also evoked at 50-120 ms in 37% of ipsi and 29% of contra cutaneous reflexes, the incidence of multiunit activity in the late peak was significantly greater in rats pretreated with silastics containing 100% estradiol (E) compared with 10% E or cholesterol controls. 4. When an ipsi cutaneous reflex in LL was conditioned by a stimulus to the contra flank skin nerve at a condition-test interval of 30 ms (C-T 30 ms), the average number of discharges in the early peak of the histogram was double that in the histogram obtained from the unconditioned ipsi reflex, independent of estrogen pretreatment. 5. In 12 out of 19 cases in which a contra cutaneous reflex was conditioned by a stimulus to the ipsi flank skin nerve (C-T 30 ms), the number of discharges in the early peak of the histogram was less than that in the early peak of the histogram derived from the unconditioned contra response, independent of estrogen pretreatment. 6. Intravenous injections of progesterone (P) or its metabolite 5 alpha-pregnane-3 alpha-ol-20-one (tetrahydraprogesterone, THP) decreased the magnitude of the early peak of the ipsi cutaneous reflex and the contra cutaneous reflex in LL, independent of estrogen pretreatment. At the same time, it did not reduce the magnitude of the early peak evoked by either ipsi or contra nerves after conditioning from the other side at C-T 30 ms. 7. As a consequence, the percentage facilitation of ipsi cutaneous reflexes by contra cutaneous conditioning was significantly increased after P or THP. This suggests that these steroids can selectively enhance behaviors involving bilateral inputs. 8. An unchanged axial motoneuron pool output to bilateral cutaneous inputs after P and THP, in spite of reduced motoneuron responses to cutaneous inputs from each side of the body, implies an increased gain in the reflex circuit.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)