Indexed on: 10 Jul '01Published on: 10 Jul '01Published in: Experimental Brain Research
The aim of the present study was to investigate the contribution of reciprocal inhibition to muscle tone by examining the transmission in the reciprocal inhibitory pathway in patients with a known defect in the glycine receptor. The study was performed in eight patients with hereditary hyperekplexia, six with the major form and two with the minor form of the disease. A mutation in the α1-subunit of the glycine receptor had been demonstrated in the patients with the major form, whereas no mutation was seen in the patients with the minor form. Disynaptic reciprocal inhibition, which is presumed to be mediated by glycine, was not seen in the patients with the major form of the disease, while it could be evoked in the patients with the minor form of the disease. Presynaptic inhibition, which is presumed to be mediated by GABA, was seen in both types of patients. It is concluded that the major form of hereditary hyperekplexia is associated with impaired transmission in glycinergic reciprocal inhibitory pathways. The findings demonstrate the importance of reciprocal inhibition for the muscle tone in man, and it is suggested that the impaired reciprocal inhibition seen in patients with a defect in the glycine receptor may contribute to the increased muscle stiffness that is observed in these patients.