Type I vs type II spiral ganglion neurons exhibit differential survival and neuritogenesis during cochlear development
1 Department of Physiology, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
2 Departments of Surgery and Neurosciences, San Diego VA Medical Center and University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, 92093-0666, USA
3 Translational Neuroscience Facility and Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
Neural Development 2011, 6:33 doi:10.1186/1749-8104-6-33Published: 11 October 2011
The mechanisms that consolidate neural circuitry are a major focus of neuroscience. In the mammalian cochlea, the refinement of spiral ganglion neuron (SGN) innervation to the inner hair cells (by type I SGNs) and the outer hair cells (by type II SGNs) is accompanied by a 25% loss of SGNs.
We investigated the segregation of neuronal loss in the mouse cochlea using β-tubulin and peripherin antisera to immunolabel all SGNs and selectively type II SGNs, respectively, and discovered that it is the type II SGN population that is predominately lost within the first postnatal week. Developmental neuronal loss has been attributed to the decline in neurotrophin expression by the target hair cells during this period, so we next examined survival of SGN sub-populations using tissue culture of the mid apex-mid turn region of neonatal mouse cochleae. In organotypic culture for 48 hours from postnatal day 1, endogenous trophic support from the organ of Corti proved sufficient to maintain all type II SGNs; however, a large proportion of type I SGNs were lost. Culture of the spiral ganglion as an explant, with removal of the organ of Corti, led to loss of the majority of both SGN sub-types. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) added as a supplement to the media rescued a significant proportion of the SGNs, particularly the type II SGNs, which also showed increased neuritogenesis. The known decline in BDNF production by the rodent sensory epithelium after birth is therefore a likely mediator of type II neuron apoptosis.
Our study thus indicates that BDNF supply from the organ of Corti supports consolidation of type II innervation in the neonatal mouse cochlea. In contrast, type I SGNs likely rely on additional sources for trophic support.