Origin of the noradrenergic innervation of the superior olivary complex in the rat

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    In the rat, the superior olivary complex contains lateral and medial olivocochlear neurones, which respectively innervate two separate targets within the cochlea; the auditory afferents contacting the inner hair cells and the outer hair cells themselves. Previous double label immunohistochemical studies have shown that both lateral and medial olivocochlear neurones are contacted by noradrenergic nerve endings, and electrophysiological studies on in-vitro rat brain slices have demonstrated that noradrenaline exerts a direct, predominantly excitatory effect on medial olivocochlear neurones. In this paper. we have investigated the origin of the noradrenergic input to the superior olivary complex (SOC). A retrograde tracer, Fluorogold, was used to map the inputs to the SOC, and this was combined with immunofluorescent staining for dopamine-beta-hydroxylase (DPH) to identify which of the afferent inputs was noradrenergic. These experiments showed small numbers of neurones double-stained for both Fluorogold and D betaH in the A6 cell group (the locus coeruleus). In the A7 cell group, within and medial to the lateral lemniscus, numerous Fluorogold labelled and D betaH positive neurones were found, but no neurones were seen that were double-labelled. In none of the other major noradrenergic cell groups were labelled Fluorogold neurones ever detected. To confirm the results obtained by retrograde tracer injections, anterograde tracer injections with biotinylated dextran amine were made in the locus coeruleus. This resulted in labelled fibres within all subdivisions of the superior olivary complex. These experiments indicate that the noradrenergic input to the olivocochlear neurones originates solely from the locus coeruleus. The small numbers of double-labelled neurones found in the locus coeruleus indicate a very divergent non-selective noradrenergic input to the SOC. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)313-322
    JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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