Intrafusal muscle fibers are skeletal muscle fibers that serve as specialized sensory organs (proprioceptors) that detect the amount and rate of change in length of a muscle. They constitute the muscle spindle and are innervated by two axons, one sensory and one motor. Intrafusal muscle fibers are walled off from the rest of the muscle by a collagen sheath. This sheath has a spindle or "fusiform" shape, hence the name "intrafusal".
There are two types of intrafusal muscle fibers: nuclear bag and nuclear chain fibers. They bear two types of sensory ending, known as annulospiral and flower-spray endings. Both ends of these fibers contract but the central region only stretches and does not contract.
It is by the sensory information from these two intrafusal fiber types that an individual is able to judge the position of their muscle, and the rate at which it is changing.
|Intrafusal muscle fiber|
A muscle spindle, with γ motor and Ia sensory fibers
|Part of||Skeletal muscle|
|Anatomical terms of microanatomy|