We have shown previously that in the acutely spinalized anesthetized rat the activities of many dorsal horn interneurons (DHN) at the T10 level are correlated positively with both ongoing and stimulus-evoked renal sympathetic nerve activity (RSNA) and therefore may belong to networks generating RSNA after acute, cervical, spinal transection. In the present study, we recorded from both DHN and interneurons in the intermediate zone (IZN) of the T10 spinal segment in acutely C1-transected, chloralose-anesthetized, artificially respired rats. The activities of a similar percentage of IZN and DHN were correlated positively with ongoing RSNA, but the peaks of spike- triggered averages of RSNA based on the activity of IZN were larger, relative to dummy averages, than spike-triggered averages of RSNA based on the activity of DHN. Sympathetically correlated DHN and IZN differed in their responses to noxious somatic stimuli. Most correlated DHN had relatively simple somatic fields; they were excited by noxious stimulation of the T10 and nearby dermatomes and inhibited by stimulation of more distal dermatomes. As we have shown previously, the excitatory and inhibitory fields of these neurons were very similar to fields that, respectively, excited and inhibited RSNA. On the other hand, the somatic fields of 50% of sympathetically correlated IZN were significantly more complex, indicating a difference between either the inputs or the processing properties of IZN and DHN. Sympathetically correlated IZN and DHN also differed in their responses to colorectal distension (CRD), a noxious visceral stimulus. CRD increased RSNA in 11/15 rats and increased the activity of most sympathetically correlated T10 IZN. On the other hand, CRD decreased the activity of a majority of sympathetically correlated T10 DHN. These observations suggest that the same stimulus may differentially affect separate, putative, sympathoexcitatory pathways, exciting one and inhibiting the other. Thus the magnitude and even the polarity of responses to a given stimulus may be determined by the modality and location of the stimulus, the degree to which multiple pathways are affected by the stimulus, and the ongoing activity of presympathetic neurons, at multiple rostrocaudal levels, before stimulation. A multipathway system may explain the variability in autonomic responses to visceral and somatic stimuli exhibited in spinally injured patients.
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