alexa Three-dimensional analysis of vestibular efferent neurons innervating semicircular canals of the gerbil.


Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research

Author(s): Purcell IM, Perachio AA

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Abstract Anterograde labeling techniques were used to examine peripheral innervation patterns of vestibular efferent neurons in the crista ampullares of the gerbil. Vestibular efferent neurons were labeled by extracellular injections of biocytin or biotinylated dextran amine into the contralateral or ipsilateral dorsal subgroup of efferent cell bodies (group e) located dorsolateral to the facial nerve genu. Anterogradely labeled efferent terminal field varicosities consist mainly of boutons en passant with fewer of the terminal type. The bouton swellings are located predominately in apposition to the basolateral borders of the afferent calyces and type II hair cells, but several boutons were identified close to the hair cell apical border on both types. Three-dimensional reconstruction and morphological analysis of the terminal fields from these cells located in the sensory neuroepithelium of the anterior, horizontal, and posterior cristae were performed. We show that efferent neurons densely innervate each end organ in widespread terminal fields. Subepithelial bifurcations of parent axons were minimal, with extensive collateralization occurring after the axons penetrated the basement membrane of the neuroepithelium. Axonal branching ranged between the 6th and 27th orders and terminal field collecting area far exceeds that of the peripheral terminals of primary afferent neurons. The terminal fields of the efferent neurons display three morphologically heterogeneous types: central, peripheral, and planum. All cell types possess terminal fields displaying a high degree of anisotropy with orientations typically parallel to or within +/-45 degrees of the longitudinal axis if the crista. Terminal fields of the central and planum zones predominately project medially toward the transverse axis from the more laterally located penetration of the basement membrane by the parent axon. Peripheral zone terminal fields extend predominately toward the planum semilunatum. The innervation areas of efferent terminal fields display a trend from smallest to largest for the central, peripheral, and planum types, respectively. Neurons that innervate the central zone of the crista do not extend into the peripheral or planum regions. Conversely, those neurons with terminal fields in the peripheral or planum regions do not innervate the central zone of the sensory neuroepithelium. The central zone of the crista is innervated preferentially by efferent neurons with cell bodies located in the ipsilateral group e. The peripheral and planum zones of the crista are innervated preferentially by efferent neurons with cell bodies located in the contralateral group e. A model incorporating our anatomic observations is presented describing an ipsilateral closed-loop feedback between ipsilateral efferent neurons and the periphery and an open-loop feed-forward innervation from contralateral efferent neurons. A possible role for the vestibular efferent neurons in the modulation of semicircular canal afferent response dynamics is proposed.
This article was published in J Neurophysiol and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research

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