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J Neurophysiol. 1998 Jan;79(1):51-63.

Synaptic inputs to stellate cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus.

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Department of Neurophysiology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin 53706-1532, USA.


Auditory information is carried from the cochlear nuclei to the inferior colliculi through six parallel ascending pathways, one of which is through stellate cells of the ventral cochlear nuclei (VCN) through the trapezoid body. To characterize and identify the synaptic influences on T stellate cells, intracellular recordings were made from anatomically identified stellate cells in parasagittal slices of murine cochlear nuclei. Shocks to the auditory nerve consistently evoked five types of synaptic responses in T stellate cells, which reflect sources intrinsic to the cochlear nuclear complex. 1) Monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) that were blocked by 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (DNQX), an antagonist of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptors, probably reflected activation by auditory nerve fibers. Electrophysiological estimates indicate that about five auditory nerve fibers converge on one T stellate cell. 2) Disynaptic, glycinergic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) arise through inhibitory interneurons in the VCN or in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). 3) Slow depolarizations, the source of which has not been identified, that lasted between 0.2 and 1 s and were blocked by -2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. 4) Rapid, late glutamatergic EPSPs are polysynaptic and may arise from other T stellate cells. 5) Trains of late glycinergic IPSPs after single or repetitive shocks match the responses of D stellate cells, showing that D stellate cells are one source of glycinergic inhibition to T stellate cells. The source of late, polysynaptic EPSPs and IPSPs was assessed electrophysiologically and pharmacologically. Late synaptic responses in T stellate cells were enhanced by repetitive stimulation, indicating that the interneurons from which they arose should fire trains of action potentials in responses to trains of shocks. Late EPSPs and late IPSPs were blocked by APV and enhanced by the removal of Mg2+, indicating that the interneurons were driven at least in part through NMDA receptors. Bicuculline, a gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor antagonist, enhanced the late PSPs, indicating that GABAergic inhibition suppresses both the glycinergic interneurons responsible for the trains of IPSPs in T-stellate cells and the interneuron responsible for late EPSPs in T stellate cells. The glycinergic interneurons that mediate the series of IPSPs are intrinsic to the ventral cochlear nucleus because long series of IPSPs were recorded from T stellate cells in slices in which the DCN was removed. These experiments indicate that T stellate cells are a potential source of late EPSPs and that D stellate cells are a potential source for trains of late IPSPs.

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