Selective activation of primary afferent fibers evaluated by sine-wave electrical stimulation

Kohei Koga, Hidemasa Furue, Harunor Rashid, Atsushi Takaki, Toshihiko Katafuchi, Megumu Yoshimura

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136 Citations (Scopus)


Transcutaneous sine-wave stimuli at frequencies of 2000, 250 and 5 Hz (Neurometer) are thought to selectively activate Aβ, Aδ and C afferent fibers, respectively. However, there are few reports to test the selectivity of these stimuli at the cellular level. In the present study, we analyzed action potentials (APs) generated by sine-wave stimuli applied to the dorsal root in acutely isolated rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) preparations using intracellular recordings. We also measured excitatory synaptic responses evoked by transcutaneous stimuli in substantia gelatinosa (SG) neurons of the spinal dorsal horn, which receive inputs predominantly from C and Aδ fibers, using in vivo patch-clamp recordings. In behavioral studies, escape or vocalization behavior of rats was observed with both 250 and 5 Hz stimuli at intensity of ∼0.8 mA (T5/ T250), whereas with 2000 Hz stimulation, much higher intensity (2.14 mA, T2000) was required. In DRG neurons, APs were generated at T5/T250 by 2000 Hz stimulation in Aβ, by 250 Hz stimulation both in Aβ and Aδ, and by 5 Hz stimulation in all three classes of DRG neurons. However, the AP frequencies elicited in Aβ and Aδ by 5 Hz stimulation were much less than those reported previously in physiological condition. With in vivo experiments large amplitude of EPSCs in SG neurons were elicited by 250 and 5 Hz stimuli at T5/ T250. These results suggest that 2000 Hz stimulation excites selectively Aβ fibers and 5 Hz stimulation activates noxious transmission mediated mainly through C fibers. Although 250 Hz stimulation activates both Aδ and Aβ fibers, tactile sensation would not be perceived when painful sensation is produced at the same time. Therefore, 250 Hz was effective stimulus frequency for activation of Aδ fibers initiating noxious sensation. Thus, the transcutaneous sine-wave stimulation can be applied to evaluate functional changes of sensory transmission by comparing thresholds with the three stimulus frequencies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalMolecular Pain
Publication statusPublished - Mar 25 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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