Reflexes in postganglionic fibres within skin and muscle nerves after noxious stimulation of skin.
Summary 1. Somomato-sympathetic reflexes in postganglionic neurones to skin and muscle induced by noxious stimulation of skin were studied in cats anaesthetized with chloralose. The reflexes were elicited by mechanical damaging stimuli and by temperature stimuli of more than 45°C. 2. In most cutaneous units the spontaneous activity was depressed during noxious stimulation of skin. Some cutaneous units were excited or showed mixed responses. The depression of the spontaneous activity was maximal from the skin area which was innervated by the cutaneous postganglionic neurones and much weaker or not elicitable from other skin areas. 3. Most muscle units were excited during noxious stimulation of skin. This excitation could be elicited from all over the body surface. 4. The effective cutaneous afferent fibres which are involved in these reflexes are the Group III axones which are excitable by mechanical damaging stimuli and the Group IV axones which are excitable by mechanical damaging and/or by thermal noxious stimuli. 5. These investigations reveal that the somato-sympathetic reflexes have opposite organization in cutaneous and muscle postganglionic fibres. The reflex patterns are discussed in relation to a possible central organization of the sympathetic nervous system.