Targets of olivocochlear collaterals in cochlear nucleus of rat and guinea pig

Ahmaed Baashar, Donald Robertson, Nathanael James Yates, Wilhelmina Henrica Antonia Maria Mulders

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Descending auditory pathways can modify afferent auditory input en route to cortex. One component of these pathways is the olivocochlear system which originates in brainstem and terminates in cochlea. Medial olivocochlear (MOC) neurons also project collaterals to cochlear nucleus and make synaptic contacts with dendrites of multipolar neurons. Two broadly distinct populations of multipolar cells exist: T-stellate and D-stellate neurons, thought to project to inferior colliculus and contralateral cochlear nucleus, respectively. It is unclear which of these neurons receive direct MOC collateral input due to conflicting results between in vivo and in vitro studies. This study used anatomical techniques to identify which multipolar cell population receives synaptic innervation from MOC collaterals. The retrograde tracer Fluorogold was injected into inferior colliculus or cochlear nucleus to label T-stellate and D-stellate neurons, respectively. Axonal branches of MOC neurons were labeled by biocytin injections at the floor of the fourth ventricle. Fluorogold injections resulted in labeled cochlear nucleus multipolar neurons. Biocytin abundantly labeled MOC collaterals which entered cochlear nucleus. Microscopic analysis revealed that MOC collaterals made some putative synaptic contacts with the retrogradely labeled neurons but many more putative contacts were observed on unidentified neural targets. This suggest that both T- and D-stellate neurons receive synaptic innervation from the MOC collaterals on their somata and proximal dendrites. The prevalence of these contacts cannot be stated with certainty because of technical limitations, but the possibility exists that the collaterals may also make contacts with neurons not projecting to inferior colliculus or the contralateral cochlear nucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2273-2290
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number14
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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