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J Auton Nerv Syst. 1997 Jun; 64(2-3): 101-6.

Neural mechanism of pupillary dilation elicited by electro-acupuncture stimulation in anesthetized rats.

Ohsawa H, Yamaguchi S, Ishimaru H, Shimura M, Sato Y.

Laboratory of Physiology, Tsukuba College of Technology, Japan.

The neural mechanisms to reflex dilation elicited by electro-acupuncture stimulation were investigated in anesthetized rats. Two needles, with 160 microns diameter and about 5 mm apart, were inserted into the skin and underlying muscle of a hindpaw. Repetitive 20 Hz, 0.5 ms electrical pulses at various intensities were used for stimulation for 30s. The pupil size was magnified about 44 times via a microscope and was continuously recorded on a videotape. Electro-acupuncture stimulation at more than 0.5 up to 6 mA induced stimulus intensity-dependent pupil dilation. These responses were abolished by the severance of the sciatic and saphenous nerve of the stimulated hindlimb. Compound action potentials were recorded from the distal cut end of the tibial of a saphenous nerve following electro-acupuncture stimulation of the hindpaw. The mean threshold of the compound action potentials of the myelinated fibers in saphenous nerves was 0.18 mA, while that of unmyelinated fibers was 3.0 mA. The mean threshold of the compound action potentials of the myelinated fibers in the tibial nerve was 0.20 mA of unmyelinated fibers was 3.3 mA. Severance of bilateral trunks did not affect the response, while severance of the third cranial nerves abolished the responses. In conclusion, electro-acupuncture stimulation applied to the hindpaws of the anesthetized rats induced excitation of myelinated or of both myelinated and unmyelinated afferent fibers of the tibial and saphenous nerve, and involved a reflex response of pupil dilation through the third cranial parasympathetic efferent nerve.

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