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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Jan 2022 - 14 Jan 2022

2022 Jan 12

J Neurophysiol

A topographical and physiological exploration of C-tactile afferents and their response to menthol and histamine.


Loken L S, Backlund Wasling H, Olausson H, McGlone F, Wessberg J
J Neurophysiol. 2022 Jan 12.
PMID: 35020516.


Unmyelinated tactile (CT) afferents are abundant in arm hairy skin and have been suggested to signal features of social affective touch. Here we recorded from unmyelinated low-threshold mechanosensitive afferents in the peroneal and radial nerves, with the most distal receptive fields located on the proximal phalanx of the third finger for the superficial branch of the radial nerve, and near the lateral malleolus for the peroneal nerve. We found that the physiological properties with regard to conduction velocity and mechanical threshold, as well as their tuning to brush velocity, were similar in CT units across the antebrachial (n=27), radial (n=8) and peroneal nerves (n=4). Moreover, we found that while CT afferents are readily found during microneurography of the arm nerves, they appear to be much more sparse in the lower leg compared to C nociceptors. We continued to explore CT afferents with regard to their chemical sensitivity and found that they could not be activated by topical application to their receptive field of either the cooling agent menthol or the pruritogen histamine. In light of previous studies showing the combined effects that temperature and mechanical stimuli have on these neurons, these findings add to the growing body of research suggesting that CT afferents constitute a unique class of sensory afferents with highly specialized mechanisms for transducing gentle touch.