In Vivo Electrophysiological Measurement of the Rat Ulnar Nerve with Axonal Excitability Testing

Brandon M Wild, Renée Morris, Mihai Moldovan, Christian Krarup, Arun V Krishnan, Ria Arnold


Electrophysiology enables the objective assessment of peripheral nerve function in vivo. Traditional nerve conduction measures such as amplitude and latency detect chronic axon loss and demyelination, respectively. Axonal excitability techniques "by threshold tracking" expand upon these measures by providing information regarding the activity of ion channels, pumps and exchangers that relate to acute function and may precede degenerative events. As such, the use of axonal excitability in animal models of neurological disorders may provide a useful in vivo measure to assess novel therapeutic interventions. Here we describe an experimental setup for multiple measures of motor axonal excitability techniques in the rat ulnar nerve. The animals are anesthetized with isoflurane and carefully monitored to ensure constant and adequate depth of anesthesia. Body temperature, respiration rate, heart rate and saturation of oxygen in the blood are continuously monitored. Axonal excitability studies are performed using percutaneous stimulation of the ulnar nerve and recording from the hypothenar muscles of the forelimb paw. With correct electrode placement, a clear compound muscle action potential that increases in amplitude with increasing stimulus intensity is recorded. An automated program is then utilized to deliver a series of electrical pulses which generate 5 specific excitability measures in the following sequence: stimulus response behavior, strength duration time constant, threshold electrotonus, current-threshold relationship and the recovery cycle. Data presented here indicate that these measures are repeatable and show similarity between left and right ulnar nerves when assessed on the same day. A limitation of these techniques in this setting is the effect of dose and time under anesthesia. Careful monitoring and recording of these variables should be undertaken for consideration at the time of analysis.

TidsskriftJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Udgave nummer132
StatusUdgivet - 6 feb. 2018


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