Journal of Applied Physiology
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Recently, interest has grown in the firing patterns of individual or multiunit action potential firing patterns in human muscle sympathetic nerve recordings using microneurography. Little is known, however, about sympathetic fiber distribution in human lower limb nerves that will affect the multiunit recordings. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the sympathetic fiber distribution within the human common peroneal nerve using immunohistochemical techniques (tyrosine hydroxylase, avidin-biotin complex technique). Five-micrometer transverse and 10-μm longitudinal sections, fixed in formaldehyde, were obtained from the peroneal nerve that had been harvested from three human cadavers (83 ± 11 yr) within 24 h of death. Samples of rat adrenal gland and brain served as controls. Sympathetic fiber arrangement varied between left and right nerves of the same donor, and between donors. However, in general, sympathetic fibers were dispersed throughout ∼25-38 fascicles of the peroneal nerve. The fibers were grouped in bundles of ∼2-44 axons or expressed individually throughout the fascicles, and the distribution was skewed toward smaller bundles with median and interquartile ratio values of 5 and 1 axons/bundle, respectively. These findings confirm the bundled organization of sympathetic axons within the peroneal nerve and provide the anatomical basis for outcomes in microneurographic studies. Copyright © 2013 the American Physiological Society.