Nerve conduction velocity and the amplitude of nerve and muscle action potentials have been measured in the median and anterior tibial nerves of normal adult and infant baboons. The effect of altered temperature on velocity has also been investigated. Seven adult baboons were intoxicated with acrylamide. In animals given 10-15 mg/kg/day, the gradual development of a peripheral neuropathy was accompanied by a decline in the amplitude of both muscle and nerve action potentials. There was also a gradual fall in conduction velocity. In some cases maximal motor velocity in the median nerve fell by as much as 34%, and in the anterior tibial nerve by as much as 49%, the largest falls being seen in animals showing the greatest reductions in response amplitude. Histological studies, reported elsewhere, have shown that the main pathological change in our animals was a degeneration of the peripheral nerves, with little demyelination. Fibre diameter histograms indicated that large fibres were particularly severely affected, and it seems likely that the reduced maximal conduction velocities were due to this selective loss of large-diameter fibres.
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