Using intracellular recordings, we investigated the effects of high frequency stimulation (HFS) of the primary vestibular afferents on the evoked excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) and intrinsic excitability (IE) of type-A and type-B neurons of the medial vestibular nucleus (MVN), in male rat brainstem slices. HFS induces long-term potentiation (LTP) of both EPSP and IE, which may occur in combination or separately. Synaptic LTP is characterized by an increase in the amplitude, slope and decay time constant of EPSP and IE-LTP through enhancements of spontaneous and evoked neuron firing and of input resistance (Rin). Moreover, IE-LTP is associated with a decrease in action potential afterhyperpolarization (AHP) amplitude and an increase in interspike slope steepness (ISS). The more frequent effects of HFS are EPSP-LTP in type-B neurons and IE-LTP in type-A neurons. In addition, the development of EPSP-LTP is fast in type-B neurons but slow in type-A, whereas IE-LTP develops slowly in both types. We have demonstrated that activation of N-methyl-d aspartate receptors (NMDARs) is only required for EPSP-LTP induction, whereas metabotropic glutamate receptors type-1 (mGluR1) are necessary for IE-LTP induction as well as the full development and maintenance of EPSP-LTP. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that brief and intense activation of vestibular afferent input to the MVN neurons may provoke synaptic LTP and/or IE-LTP that, induced in combination or separately, may assure the different selectivity of the MVN neuron response enhancement to the afferent signals.
Copyright © 2011 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.