Auditory brainstem of the ferret: effects of unilateral cochlear lesions on cochlear nucleus volume and projections to the inferior colliculus.

D R Moore, N E Kowalchuk

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    Unilateral lesions of the right cochlea were made in ferrets aged postnatal day (P)12 to P93. The extent of the lesions was assessed by counting remaining hair cells and ganglion cells in midmodiolar sections through the lesioned cochleas and by comparison with a sample of unlesioned cochleas. The neural effects of the lesions were assessed by measuring the volume of each cochlear nucleus (CN) and by counting the number of neurons in each CN that were retrogradely labeled following injections of WGA-HRP in the left inferior colliculus (IC). Survival times between lesioning and injection of the tracer ranged from 11 to 98 days. CN volume and projections to the IC were also measured in a sample of normal adult ferrets and in normal infants aged P39 to P80. Cochlear lesions resulted in a reduction of the volume of the CN on the lesioned side, relative to the other CN, in animals of all ages and survival times. The extent of the CN volume reduction was negatively correlated with the number of remaining cochlear ganglion cells. However, even where the number of ganglion cells was within the normal range, significant volume reductions occurred. The ventral CN was more severely affected by the lesions than the dorsal CN, but no difference was found between the anteroventral and posteroventral divisions of the nucleus. There was no significant difference in the extent of CN volume reductions between animals of different ages or survival times. Lesions of the right cochlea in younger animals (P14 to P24) resulted, after 90 days survival, in an increase in the number of left CN neurons projecting to the left IC. No significant increase was seen following lesions in older (P90) ferrets or following short (11 or 30 days) survival times in young (P14 to P24) ferrets. The extent of the increase in the ipsilateral CN-IC projection was not related to the number of remaining ganglion cells or to the division of the CN examined. Lesions did not affect the contralateral CN-IC projection. We conclude that cochlear lesions in infant ferrets can alter auditory brainstem morphology and connectivity. The dependence of these alterations on the age of the animal, survival time following lesion, and extent of the lesion varies markedly with the index examined.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe Journal of comparative neurology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 1988


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