Local cooling alters neural mechanisms producing changes in peripheral blood flow by spinal cord stimulation

Satoshi Tanaka, Kirk W. Barron, Margaret J. Chandler, Bengt Linderoth, Robert D. Foreman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study was performed to investigate the respective role of sensory afferent and sympathetic fibers in peripheral vasodilatation induced by spinal cord stimulation at different hindpaw skin temperatures. Cooling the skin was used as a strategy to enhance sympathetic activity [Am. J. Physiol.: Heart Circ. Physiol. 263 (1992) H1197]. Cutaneous blood flow in the footpad of anesthetized rats was recorded using laser Doppler flowmetry. Local cooling (<25°C) or moderate local cooling (25-28°C) of the hindpaw was produced with a cooling copper coil. Spinal cord stimulation delivered at clinically relevant parameters and with 30%, 60%, and 90% of motor threshold induced the early phase of vasodilatation in the cooled and the moderately cooled hindpaw. In addition, spinal cord stimulation at 90% of motor threshold produced the late phase of vasodilatation only in the cooled hindpaw, which was possible to block by the autonomic ganglion-blocking agent, hexamethonium. The early responses to spinal cord stimulation in the moderately cooled hindpaw were not affected by hexamethonium. In contrast, both the early and the late phase responses were eliminated by CGRP (8-37), an antagonist of the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor. After dorsal rhizotomy, spinal cord stimulation at 90% of motor threshold elicited hexamethonium-sensitive vasodilatation in the cooled hindpaw (late phase). These results suggest that spinal cord stimulation-induced vasodilatation in the cooled hindpaw (<25°C) is mediated via both the sensory afferent (early phase of vasodilatation) and via suppression of the sympathetic efferent activity (late phase) although the threshold for vasodilatation via the sympathetic efferent fibers is higher than that via sensory nerves. In contrast, vasodilatation via sensory afferent fibers may predominate with moderate temperatures (25-28°C). Thus, two complementary mechanisms for spinal cord stimulation-induced vasodilatation may exist depending on the basal sympathetic tone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-127
Number of pages11
JournalAutonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Mar 2003


  • Antidromic afferent activation
  • Cooling
  • Dorsal columns
  • Skin vasodilatation
  • Sympathetic inhibition


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