Article

Responses of pigeon vestibular hair cells to cholinergic agonists and antagonists.

Department of Otolaryngology, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 301 University Boulevard, Galveston, TX 77550-1063, USA.
Brain research (Impact Factor: 2.46). 02/2011; 1373:25-38. DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.12.016
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Acetylcholine (ACh) is the major neurotransmitter released from vestibular efferent terminals onto hair cells and afferents. Previous studies indicate that the two classes of acetylcholine receptors, nicotinic (nAChRs) and muscarinic receptors (mAChRs), are expressed by vestibular hair cells (VHCs). To identify if both classes of receptors are present in VHCs, whole cell, voltage-clamp- and current-clamp-patch recordings were performed on isolated pigeon vestibular type I and type II HCs during the application of the cholinergic agonists, acetylcholine and carbachol, and the cholinergic antagonists, D-tubocurarine and atropine. By applying in different combinations, these compounds were used to selectively activate either nAChRs or mAChRs. The effects of nAChR and mAChR activation on HC currents and zero electrode current potential (V(z)) were monitored. It was found that presumed mAChR activation decreased both inward and outward currents in both type I and type II HCs, resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization. Conversely, nAChR activation mainly increased both inward and outward currents in type II HCs, resulting in a hyperpolarization of their V(z). nAChR activation also increased outward currents in type I HCs resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization of their V(z). The decrease of inward and outward currents and the depolarization of the V(z) in type I pigeon HCs by activation of mAChRs represents a new finding. Ion channel candidates in pigeon vestibular HCs that might underlie the modulation of the macroscopic ionic currents and V(z) by different AChR activation are discussed.

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    ABSTRACT: This review covers the articles published between 2010 and early 2011 that presented new findings on inner-ear efferents and their ability to modulate hair cell function. Studies published within the review period have increased our understanding of efferent mechanisms on hair cells in the cochlear and vestibular sensory epithelium and provide insights on efferent contributions to the plasticity of bilateral auditory processing. The central nervous system controls the sensitivity of hair cells to physiological stimuli by regulating the gain of hair cell electromechanical amplification and modulating the efficiency of hair cell-eighth nerve transmission. A notable advance in the last year has been animal and human studies that have examined the contribution of the olivocochlear efferents to sound localization, particularly in a noisy environment. Acoustic activation of olivocochlear fibers provides a clinical test for the integrity of the peripheral auditory system and has provided new understanding about the function and limitations of the cochlear amplifier. Although similar tests may be possible in the efferent vestibular system, they have not yet been developed. The structural and functional similarities of the sensory epithelia in the inner ear offer hope that testing procedures may be developed that will allow reliable testing of the vestibular hair cell function.
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