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Front Neurol. 2012 Jun 6;3:91. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00091. eCollection 2012.

Plasticity of Scarpa's Ganglion Neurons as a Possible Basis for Functional Restoration within Vestibular Endorgans.

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1
INSERM U1051, Institute for Neurosciences Montpellier, France.

Abstract

In a previous study, we observed spontaneous restoration of vestibular function in young adult rodents following excitotoxic injury of the neuronal connections within vestibular endorgans. The functional restoration was supported by a repair of synaptic contacts between hair cells and primary vestibular neurons. This process was observed in 2/3 of the animals studied and occurred within 5 days following the synaptic damage. To assess whether repair capacity is a fundamental trait of vestibular endorgans and to decipher the cellular mechanisms supporting such a repair process, we studied the neuronal regeneration and synaptogenesis in co-cultures of vestibular epithelia and Scarpa's ganglion from young and adult rodents. We demonstrate that, under specific culture conditions, primary vestibular neurons from young mice or rats exhibit robust ability to regenerate nervous processes. When co-cultured with vestibular epithelia, primary vestibular neurons were able to establish de novo contacts with hair cells. Under the present paradigm, these contacts displayed morphological features of immature synaptic contacts. Preliminary observations using co-cultures of adult rodents suggest that this reparative capacity remained in older mice although to a lesser extent. Identifying the basic mechanisms underlying the repair process may provide a basis for novel therapeutic strategies to restore mature and functional vestibular synaptic contacts following damage or loss.

KEYWORDS:

plasticity; primary neurons; repair; sensory epithelia; synapse; vestibule

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