Manually-stimulated recovery of motor function after facial nerve injury requires intact sensory input

SP Pavlov, M Grosheva, M Streppel, O Guntinas-Lichius, A Irintchev, E Skouras, SK Angelova, S Kuerten, N Sinis, Sarah Dunlop, DN Angelov

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    45 Citations (Scopus)


    We have recently shown in rat that daily manual stimulation (MS) of vibrissal muscles promotes recovery of whisking and reduces polyinnervation of muscle fibers following repair of the facial nerve (facial-facial anastomosis, FFA). Here, we examined whether these positive effects were: (1) correlated with alterations of the afferent connections of regenerated facial motoneurons, and (2) whether they were achieved by enhanced sensory input through the intact trigeminal nerve. First, we quantified the extent of total synaptic input to motoneurons in the facial nucleus using synaptophysin immunocytochemistry following FFA with and without subsequent MS. We found that, without MS, this input was reduced compared to intact animals. The number of synaptophysin-positive terminals returned to normal values following MS. Thus, MS appears to counteract the deafferentation of regenerated facial motoneurons. Second, we performed FFA and, in addition, eliminated the trigeminal sensory input to facial motoneurons by extirpation of the ipsilateral infraorbital nerve (IONex). In this paradigm, without MS, vibrissal motor performance and pattern of end-plate reinnervation were as aberrant as after FFA without MS. MS did not influence the reinnervation pattern after IONex and functional recovery was even Worse than after IONex without MS. Thus, when the sensory system is intact, MS restores normal vibrissal function and reduces the degree of polyinnervation. When afferent inputs are abolished, these effects are eliminated or even reversed. We conclude that rehabilitation strategies must be carefully designed to take into account the extent of motor and/or sensory damage. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)292-300
    JournalExperimental Neurology
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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