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Proportions of slow-twitch and fast-twitch extrafusal fibers in receptive fields of tendon organs in chicken leg muscles

Proportions of slow-twitch and fast-twitch extrafusal fibers in receptive fields of tendon organs in chicken leg muscles

Anatomical Record 252(1): 34-40

Golgi tendon organs are mechanoreceptors that monitor the contractile force produced by motor units. Receptors are most responsive to contractions of extrafusal muscle fibers that terminate closest to them and on them. Three anterior and four posterior chicken leg muscles were examined. Proportions of immunohistochemically identified slow-twitch extrafusal fibers and fast-twitch extrafusal fibers were calculated for 374 tendon organ receptive fields. Tendon organs were observed in muscle regions occupied either by slow-twitch fibers or fast-twitch fibers only, but most were found in regions that contained both slow-twitch and fast-twitch extrafusal fibers. The frequency with which each fiber type occurred near tendon organs approached the frequency with which it occurred in more inclusive regions. In receptive fields with mixed fiber populations, fast-twitch fibers were the predominant type, especially in the anterior leg muscles. Distribution patterns of extrafusal fiber types adjacent to and farther removed from tendon organs suggest that afferent discharges from tendon organs are by and large unbiased measures of the contractile activity of the extrafusal fiber population of the muscle portion in which the tendon organs are located. In mixed muscle regions, slow-twitch fibers and fast-twitch fibers attach on given tendon organs, enabling them to monitor forces produced by slow motor units and by fast motor units. Most tendon organs are situated in mixed extrafusal fiber fields with high fast-twitch fiber content, indicating that in chicken leg muscles sensory feedback from tendon organs is largely one from fast motor units.

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Accession: 009260852

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PMID: 9737742

DOI: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0185(199809)252:1<34::aid-ar4>3.0.co;2-e

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