Spiral ganglion neurones: an overview of morphology, firing behaviour, ionic channels and function

Pflugers Arch. 2009 Apr;457(6):1303-25. doi: 10.1007/s00424-008-0586-2. Epub 2008 Sep 6.


The spiral ganglion cells provide the afferent innervation of the hair cells of the organ of Corti. Ninety-five percent of these cells (termed type I spiral ganglion neurones) are in synaptic contact with the inner hair cells, whereas about 5% of them are type II cells, which are responsible for the sensory innervation of the outer hair cells. To understand the function of the spiral ganglion neurones, it is important to explore their membrane properties, understand their activity patterns and describe the variety of ionic channels determining their behaviour. In this review, a brief description is given of the various experimental methods that allow the investigation of the spiral ganglion cells, followed by the discussion of their action potential firing patterns and ionic conductances. The presence, distribution and significance of the K(+) currents of the spiral ganglion cells are specifically addressed, along with the introduction of the putative subunit compositions of the relevant voltage-gated K(+) channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Elapid Venoms / pharmacology
  • Histological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factors / pharmacology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Organ of Corti / cytology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Potassium Channels / physiology*
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Spiral Ganglion / anatomy & histology
  • Spiral Ganglion / physiology*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Calcium Channels
  • Elapid Venoms
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • neurotropin 3, mouse
  • dendrotoxin
  • Potassium