Functional Changes in Muscle Afferent Neurones in an Osteoarthritis Model: Implications for Impaired Proprioceptive Performance
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BACKGROUND: Impaired proprioceptive performance is a significant clinical issue for many who suffer osteoarthritis (OA) and is a risk factor for falls and other liabilities. This study was designed to evaluate weight-bearing distribution in a rat model of OA and to determine whether changes also occur in muscle afferent neurones. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Intracellular recordings were made in functionally identified dorsal root ganglion neurones in acute electrophysiological experiments on the anaesthetized animal following measurements of hind limb weight bearing in the incapacitance test. OA rats but not naïve control rats stood with less weight on the ipsilateral hind leg (P = 0.02). In the acute electrophysiological experiments that followed weight bearing measurements, action potentials (AP) elicited by electrical stimulation of the dorsal roots differed in OA rats, including longer AP duration (P = 0.006), slower rise time (P = 0.001) and slower maximum rising rate (P = 0.03). Depolarizing intracellular current injection elicited more APs in models than in naïve muscle afferent neurones (P = 0.01) indicating greater excitability. Axonal conduction velocity in model animals was slower (P = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The present study demonstrates changes in hind limb stance accompanied by changes in the functional properties of muscle afferent neurones in this derangement model of OA. This may provide a possible avenue to explore mechanisms underlying the impaired proprioceptive performance and perhaps other sensory disorders in people with OA.
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