Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors regulate vestibular afferent gain and activation timing

Barbara J. Morley, Anna Lysakowski, Sarath Vijayakumar, Deanna Menapace, Timothy A. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1216-1233
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • RRID:AB_ 90764
  • RRID:AB_2079751
  • RRID:AB_2616561
  • RRID:IMSR_JAX:000664
  • RRID:SCK_002865
  • RRID:SCR_00207
  • amplitude
  • efferent
  • evoked potential
  • latency
  • macula
  • saccule
  • utricle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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