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Sympathetic modulation of mechanoreceptor sensitivity in frog skin.


1. Sympathetic effects on the mechanical sensitivity of frog cutaneous mechanoreceptors were examined in vivo. 2. Functionally identified units were tested with repetitive mechanical stimuli of threshold intensity during electrical stimulation of the sympathetic trunk. 3. Sympathetic activity resulted in increased sensitivity for three classes of afferents; slowly adapting compression receptors, slowly adapting stroke receptors, and rapidly adapting stroke receptors. Decreased sensitivity was produced in the fourth class, rapidly adapting compression receptors. 4. Preliminary tets of several possible modes of sympathetic influence indicated that blood flow changes, changes in probe-skin coupling and changes in tissue compliance could not account for the observed changes in receptor sensitivity. Na+ and Cl- ions, secreted by cutaneous mucous glands were found to be possible contributors to the decreased sensitivity of rapidly adapting compression receptors. Direct neurotransmitter action on the receptors, a likely mechanism of sympathetic action, was not tested. 5. The data indicate that systematic changes in cutaneous sensibility occur with modest changes in sympathetic efferent activity. Possible mechanisms of these sympathetic effects are discussed.

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