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Electrical Properties And Innervation Of Fibers In The Orbital Layer Of Rat Extraocular Muscles

J. Jacoby, D. J. Chiarandini, E. Stefani

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1. The inferior rectus muscle of rat, one of the extraocular muscles, contains two populations of multiply innervated fibers (MIFs): orbital MIFs, located in the orbital layer of the muscle and global MIFs, found in the global layer. The electrical properties and the responses to nerve stimulation of orbital MIFs were studied with single intracellular electrodes and compared with those of twitch fibers of the orbital layer, MIFs of the global layer, and tonic fibers of the frog. 2. About 90% of the orbital MIFs did not produce overshooting action potentials. In these fibers the characteristics and time course of the responses to nerve stimulation varied along the length of the fibers. Within 2 mm of the end-plate band of the muscle, the responses consisted of several small end-plate potentials (EPPs) and a nonovershooting spike. Distal to 2 mm, the responses in most fibers consisted of large and small EPPs with no spiking response. Some fibers produced very small spikes surmounted on large EPPs. 3. Overshooting action potentials were observed in approximately 10% of the orbital MIFs recorded between the end-plate band and 2 mm distal. The presence or absence of action potentials was not related to the magnitude of the resting potential of the fibers. 4. The threshold of nerve stimulated responses in orbital MIFs was the same as that in orbital twitch fibers. A large number of orbital MIFs had latencies equal to those for the orbital twitch fibers recorded at the same distance from the end-plate band, but the average latency was greater in the MIFs. The latency of orbital MIFs was about one-half of that for the MIFs of the global layer. The values for the effective resistance and membrane time constant of orbital MIFs fell between those for orbital twitch fibers on the one hand, and global MIFs and frog tonic fibers on the other. 5. In order to compare electrical properties with innervation patterns, fibers identified electrophysiologically as orbital MIFs were injected with the fluorescent dye Lucifer yellow and then traced in Epon-embedded, serial transverse sections. In addition to numerous superficial endings distributed along the fibers, a single "en plaque" ending was also found in the end-plate band that resembled the end plates of the adjacent orbital twitch fibers. 6. From these results we conclude that the electrical activity of orbital MIFs varies along the length of the fibers.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)