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Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors regulate vestibular afferent gain and activation timing.

Little is known about the function of the cholinergic efferents innervating peripheral vestibular hair cells. We measured vestibular sensory evoked potentials (VsEPs) in α9 knockout (KO) mice, α10 KO mice, α7 KO mice, α9/10 and α7/9 double KO mice, and wild-type (WT) controls. We also studied the morphology and ultrastructure of efferent terminals on vestibular hair cells in α9, α10, and α9/10 KOs. Both type I and type ll vestibular hair cells express the α9 and α10 subunits. The efferent boutons on vestibular cells in α9, α10, and α9/10 KOs appeared normal, but a quantitative analysis was not performed. Mean VsEP thresholds were significantly elevated in α9 and α9/10 KO animals. Some α9 and α9/10 KO animals, however, had normal or near-normal thresholds, whereas others were greatly affected. Despite individual variability in threshold responses, latencies were consistently shortened. The double α7/9 KO resulted in decreased variance by normalizing waveforms and latencies. The phenotypes of the α7 and α10 single KOs were identical. Both α7 and α10 KO mice evidenced normal thresholds, decreased activation latencies, and larger amplitudes compared with WT mice. The data suggest a complex interaction of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in regulating vestibular afferent gain and activation timing. Although the α9/10 heteromeric nAChR is an important component of vestibular efferent activity, other peripheral or central nAChRs involving the α7 subunit or α10 subunit and α9 homomeric receptors are also important. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:1216-1233, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Pubmed ID: 27718229 RIS Download

Mesh terms: Animals | Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory | Fluorescent Antibody Technique | Hair Cells, Vestibular | Mice | Mice, Knockout | Microscopy, Confocal | Receptors, Nicotinic

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Associated grants

  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC006907

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