, Volume 22, Issue 1 Supplement, pp S31-S36

Tactile stimulation and mechanoreceptors in sensory neuropathies

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Meissner corpuscles are supposed to play a primary role in generating tactile responses. To verity this hypothesis, we combined electrophysiological and morphological methods. In a group of twelve patients affected by congenital or acquired neuropathies, electrical and tactile evoked potentials were near-nerve recorded along the median nerve. The density of Meissner corpuslces was calculated in the fingertip, exactly in the same area stimulated by the tactile probe. Using immunohistochemical techniques we determined in the skin specimens the density of normal and atrophic Meissner corpuscles and of myelinated nerve fibers per square millimeter. We demonstrated that tactile potentials depend exclusively on number of normal Meissner corpuscles, while electrical potentials are also correlated with atrophic receptors. Tactile stimulation is a more suitable method than electrical stimulation to discriminate between functional and not functional mechanoreceptive units.