Synaptic responses to mechanical stimulation in calyceal and bouton type vestibular afferents studied in an isolated preparation of semicircular canal ampullae of chicken.

National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Okazaki, Japan.
Experimental Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.17). 02/1990; 80(3):475-88. DOI: 10.1007/BF00227989
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Relationships between the response patterns of semicircular canal afferents to mechanical stimulation and the morphologies of their peripheral endings were investigated in an isolated preparation of the anterior semicircular canal ampulla of chicken, using a combination of electrical recording with intracellular injections of Lucifer Yellow CH. The hair bundle mechanical stimulus was applied in a diffuse manner by a glass rod vibrating in the nearby bathing medium. Two types of spike discharge patterns and postsynaptic potentials were recorded. One type was found exclusively in the bouton type afferent and demonstrated a phasic increase of firing frequency and transient depolarizing postsynaptic potentials at the beginning of mechanical stimulation. These synaptic potentials were also observed spontaneously and their amplitudes were increased by membrane hyperpolarization. The other type was found exclusively in afferents with calyceal endings and showed a tonic increase of spiking frequency and depolarizing DC postsynaptic potentials with superimposing AC responses at the frequency of the mechanical stimulation. Amplitudes of postsynaptic potentials were increased by hyperpolarization. Hair cells generated depolarizing DC transduction potentials superimposed with AC potentials at frequency of the mechanical stimulation. The spontaneous spike discharging patterns of afferent nerve fibres were classified either as a regular type (CV less than 0.10) or as an irregular type (CV greater than 0.25) on the basis of coefficient of variation (CV) of interspike intervals. The spontaneous firing rate of regular units was higher than that of irregular units. Several membrane characteristics are different between these two types of afferent fibers; irregular units had short membrane time constants and fast spikes associated with clear spike-afterhyperpolarization. These features fit with the fact that irregular units tend to have phasic responses to mechanical stimulation while regular units typically have tonic responses. Irregular units had bouton endings with an average axonal diameter thicker than the regular units which had calix endings.

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