Clustering of slowly adapting type II mechanoreceptors in human peripheral nerve and skin

Gang Wu, Rolf Ekedahl, Rolf G. Hallin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intrafascicular organization of human peripheral nerves was studied with percutaneous microneurography in the median, radial and peroneal nerves with one-surface or two-surface thin diameter concentric needle electrodes. Data from 33 recording sites containing 47 slowly adapting type II (SAII) units were analysed. At many sites two, sometimes even three, neighbouring SAII units were recorded from the explored nerve fascicle and they had adjacent or even overlapping cutaneous receptive fields. Among pairs of SAII units found at the same site, one unit often had ongoing discharge, whereas the other was silent under resting conditions. The neighbouring SAII units were optimally activated by stretching the skin in different directions. Stretching the same skin area in different directions produced different unit recruitment. Clustered SAII units were often found in sites where Pacinian afferents and skin sympathetic activity were also recorded. No significant difference was observed in the degree of grouping of SAII units either between recordings obtained with one-surface versus two-surface electrodes or between glabrous and hairy skin. The data do not support the notion that myelinated fibres are randomly organized in peripheral nerve fascicles. Instead the findings suggest that SAII units tend to be clustered in human peripheral nerves. Furthermore, the response of groups of SAII units to skin stretch suggests that they play a role in proprioception. Dual channel recordings with two-surface concentric needle electrodes may provide a novel approach to study fibre organization in human peripheral nerves and the behaviour of groups of nerve fibres.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Cutaneous mechanoreceptor
  • Functional grouping
  • Human peripheral nerve
  • Microneurography
  • Slowly adapting type II afferent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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