Glycinergic synaptic transmission in the cochlear nucleus of mice with normal hearing and age-related hearing loss

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Oct;110(8):1848-59. doi: 10.1152/jn.00151.2013. Epub 2013 Jul 31.


The principal inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian cochlear nucleus (CN) is glycine. During age-related hearing loss (AHL), glycinergic inhibition becomes weaker in CN. However, it is unclear what aspects of glycinergic transmission are responsible for weaker inhibition with AHL. We examined glycinergic transmission onto bushy cells of the anteroventral CN in normal-hearing CBA/CaJ mice and in DBA/2J mice, a strain that exhibits an early onset AHL. Glycinergic synaptic transmission was examined in brain slices of mice at 10-15 postnatal days old, 20-35 days old, and at 6-7 mo old. Spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic current (sIPSC) event frequency and amplitude were the same among all three ages in both strains of mice. However, the amplitudes of IPSCs evoked (eIPSC) from stimulating the dorsal CN were smaller, and the failure rate was higher, with increasing age due to decreased quantal content in both mouse strains, independent of hearing status. The coefficient of variation of the eIPSC amplitude also increased with age. The decay time constant (τ) of sIPSCs and eIPSCs were constant in CBA/CaJ mice at all ages, but were significantly slower in DBA/2J mice at postnatal days 20-35, following the onset of AHL, and not at earlier or later ages. Our results suggest that glycinergic inhibition at the synapses onto bushy cells becomes weaker and less reliable with age through changes in release. However, the hearing loss in DBA/2J mice is accompanied by a transiently enhanced inhibition, which could disrupt the balance of excitation and inhibition.

Keywords: bushy cells; glycinergic inhibition; presbycusis; quantal content; ventral cochlear nucleus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Hearing Loss / genetics
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology*
  • Hearing*
  • Inhibitory Postsynaptic Potentials*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Glycine