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Abstract

Volume 19, Number 5-6
2009

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Presynaptic and postsynaptic ion channel expression in vestibular nuclei neurons after unilateral vestibular deafferentation
Full Text Featured Article (5,170 KB)
pp. 191 - 200
Mei Shao, Anastas Popratiloff, June C. Hirsch, Kenna D. Peusner

Vestibular compensation refers to the recovery of function occurring after unilateral vestibular deafferentation, but some patients remain uncompensated. Similarly, more than half of the operated chickens compensate three days after unilateral vestibular ganglionectomy (UVG), but the rest remain uncompensated. This review focuses on the studies performed on the principal cells of the chick tangential nucleus after UVG. The tangential nucleus is a major avian vestibular nucleus whose principal cells are all second-order, vestibular reflex projection neurons participating in the vestibuloocular and vestibulocollic reflexes controlling posture, balance, and eye movements. Using whole-cell patch-clamp approach in brain slice preparations, spontaneous spike firing, ionic conductances, and spontaneous excitatory postsynaptic currents (sEPSCs) are recorded in principal cells from controls and operated chickens three days after UVG. In compensated chickens, the proportion of spontaneous spike firing principal cells and their spike discharge rate are symmetric on the lesion and intact sides, with the rates increased over controls. However, in the uncompensated chickens, the spike discharge rate increases on the lesion side, but not on the intact side, where only silent principal cells are recorded. In all the experimental groups, including controls, silent principal cells are distinguished from spontaneous spiking cells by smaller persistent sodium conductances and higher activation thresholds for the fast sodium channel. In addition, silent principal cells on the intact side of uncompensated chickens have larger dendrotoxin-sensitive potassium conductances, with a higher ratio of immunolabeling for surface/cytoplasmic expression of a dendrotoxin-sensitive, potassium channel subunit, Kv1.1. Finally, in compensated chickens, sEPSC frequency is symmetric bilaterally, but in uncompensated chickens sEPSC frequency increased only on the lesion side, where the expression of Kv1.2 decreased in synaptotagmin-labeled terminal profiles on the principal cell bodies. Altogether, the specific sodium and potassium channels important for the development of spike firing pattern and/or presynaptic glutamate release on vestibular reflex projection neurons may be critically involved in changing postsynaptic neuron excitability after vestibular deafferentation.

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