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Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Oct;30(7):1227-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06925.x. Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Sensory deprivation regulates the development of the hyperpolarization-activated current in auditory brainstem neurons.

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1
Department Biologie II, Division of Neurobiology, Ludwig-Maximilans University M√ľnchen, 82152 Martinsried, Germany.

Abstract

Hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are highly expressed in the superior olivary complex, the primary locus for binaural information processing. This hyperpolarization-activated current (I(h)) regulates the excitability of neurons and enhances the temporally precise analysis of the binaural acoustic cues. By using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique, we examined the properties of I(h) current in neurons of the lateral superior olive (LSO) and the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) before and after hearing onset. Moreover, we tested the hypothesis that I(h) currents are actively regulated by sensory input activity by performing bilateral and unilateral cochlear ablations before hearing onset, resulting in a chronic auditory deprivation. The results show that after hearing onset, I(h) currents are rapidly upregulated in LSO neurons, but change only marginally in neurons of the MNTB. We also found a striking difference in maximal current density, voltage dependence and activation time constant between the LSO and the MNTB in mature-like animals. Following bilateral cochlear ablations before hearing onset, the I(h) currents were scaled up in the LSO and scaled down in the MNTB. Consequently, in the LSO this resulted in a depolarized resting membrane potential and a lower input resistance of these neurons. This type of activity-dependent homeostatic change could thus result in an augmented response to the remaining inputs.

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