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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 1993 Nov 19;76(1):33-41.

Ontogeny of gamma-aminobutyric acid in efferent fibers to the rat cochlea.

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  • 1Departamento de Ciencias Morfológicas, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.


Cochlear efferent innervation originates in two different groups of neurons located in the superior olivary complex. A first group of olivocochlear neurons (lateral efferent neurons) lies in the lateral superior olive. They send axons to the organ of Corti, where they synapse with radial afferent dendrites of primary auditory neurons, postsynaptic to the inner hair cells. The second group of neurons (medial efferent neurons) is found in medial subnuclei of the superior olivary complex and sends axons to synapse with outer hair cells. Subpopulations of both medial and lateral olivocochlear neurons probably use gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as a neurotransmitter. We have used an immunoperoxidase technique to detect GABA-like immunoreactivity (GABA-LI) in postnatal maturing rat cochleas. The GABA-LI appeared in the inner hair cell region by P3 (P1 = birth) and reached a mature appearance by P15-P16. In the outer hair cell region, GABA-like immunoreactive fibers and terminals could not be identified until P9 and they were only found in the apical end of the cochlea. There was a dual gradient of maturation of GABA-LI in the cochlea. The GABA-LI appeared first at the cochlear base and then extended towards the apex. It also appeared earlier (about a week) in the inner hair cell region than in the outer hair cell region. This dual gradient of maturation is in close agreement with previous data concerning the maturation of the cochlea.

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