It has been hypothesized that normal pruning of exuberant branching of afferent neurons in the developing cochlea is caused by the arrival of the olivocochlear efferent neurons and the resulting competion for synaptic sites on hair cells. This hypothesis was supported by a report that afferent innervation density on mature outer hair cells (OHCs) is elevated in animals de-efferented at birth, before the olivocochlear system reaches the outer hair cell area (Pujol and Carlier  Dev. Brain Res. 3:151-154). In the current study, this claim was evaluated quantitatively at the electron microscopic level in four cats that were de-efferented at birth and allowed to survive for 6-11 months. A semiserial section analysis of 156 OHCs from de-efferented and normal ears showed that, although de-efferentation essentially was complete in all four cases, the number and distribution of afferent terminals on OHCs was indistinguishable from normal, and the morphology of afferent synapses was normal in both the inner hair cell area and the OHC area. Thus, the postnatal presence of an efferent system is not required for the normal development of cochlear afferent innervation, and the synaptic competition hypothesis is not supported. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Comparative Neurology|
|State||Published - Jul 17 2000|
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