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Prog Neurobiol. 2001 Aug;64(6):527-53.

Synaptic plasticity in the medial vestibular nuclei: role of glutamate receptors and retrograde messengers in rat brainstem slices.

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1
Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Sezione di Fisiologia Umana, Università di Perugia, I-06100, Perugia, Italy. isfisuma@unipg.it

Abstract

The analysis of cellular-molecular events mediating synaptic plasticity within vestibular nuclei is an attempt to explain the mechanisms underlying vestibular plasticity phenomena. The present review is meant to illustrate the main results, obtained in vitro, on the mechanisms underlying long-term changes in synaptic strength within the medial vestibular nuclei. The synaptic plasticity phenomena taking place at the level of vestibular nuclei could be useful for adapting and consolidating the efficacy of vestibular neuron responsiveness to environmental requirements, as during visuo-vestibular recalibration and vestibular compensation. Following a general introduction on the most salient features of vestibular compensation and visuo-vestibular adaptation, which are two plastic events involving neuronal circuitry within the medial vestibular nuclei, the second and third sections describe the results from rat brainstem slice studies, demonstrating the possibility to induce long-term potentiation and depression in the medial vestibular nuclei, following high frequency stimulation of the primary vestibular afferents. In particular the mechanisms sustaining the induction and expression of vestibular long-term potentiation and depression, such as the role of various glutamate receptors and retrograde messengers have been described. The relevant role of the interaction between the platelet-activating factor, acting as a retrograde messenger, and the presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors, in determining the full expression of vestibular long-term potentiation is also underlined. In addition, the mechanisms involved in vestibular long-term potentiation have been compared with those leading to long-term potentiation in the hippocampus to emphasize the most significant differences emerging from vestibular studies. The fourth part, describes recent results demonstrating the essential role of nitric oxide, another retrograde messenger, in the induction of vestibular potentiation. Finally the fifth part suggests the possible functional significance of different action times of the two retrograde messengers and metabotropic glutamate receptors, which are involved in mediating the presynaptic mechanism sustaining vestibular long-term potentiation.

PMID:
11311461
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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