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Front Syst Neurosci. 2014 Dec 2;8:224. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00224. eCollection 2014.

Short-term plasticity and modulation of synaptic transmission at mammalian inhibitory cholinergic olivocochlear synapses.

Author information

1
Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular "Dr. Héctor N. Torres" (INGEBI), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) Buenos Aires, Argentina ; Departamento de Fisiología, Biología Molecular y Celular "Prof. Héctor Maldonado", Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina.
2
Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular "Dr. Héctor N. Torres" (INGEBI), Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) Buenos Aires, Argentina ; Tercera Cátedra de Farmacología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Abstract

The organ of Corti, the mammalian sensory epithelium of the inner ear, has two types of mechanoreceptor cells, inner hair cells (IHCs) and outer hair cells (OHCs). In this sensory epithelium, vibrations produced by sound waves are transformed into electrical signals. When depolarized by incoming sounds, IHCs release glutamate and activate auditory nerve fibers innervating them and OHCs, by virtue of their electromotile property, increase the amplification and fine tuning of sound signals. The medial olivocochlear (MOC) system, an efferent feedback system, inhibits OHC activity and thereby reduces the sensitivity and sharp tuning of cochlear afferent fibers. During neonatal development, IHCs fire Ca(2+) action potentials which evoke glutamate release promoting activity in the immature auditory system in the absence of sensory stimuli. During this period, MOC fibers also innervate IHCs and are thought to modulate their firing rate. Both the MOC-OHC and the MOC-IHC synapses are cholinergic, fast and inhibitory and mediated by the α9α10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR) coupled to the activation of calcium-activated potassium channels that hyperpolarize the hair cells. In this review we discuss the biophysical, functional and molecular data which demonstrate that at the synapses between MOC efferent fibers and cochlear hair cells, modulation of transmitter release as well as short term synaptic plasticity mechanisms, operating both at the presynaptic terminal and at the postsynaptic hair-cell, determine the efficacy of these synapses and shape the hair cell response pattern.

KEYWORDS:

GABAB receptors; calcium channels; calcium-activated potassium channels; cochlear hair cells; efferent innervation; medial olivocochlear system; short-term synaptic plasticity; synaptic transmission

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