Metabotropic glutamate receptors in auditory processing

Neuroscience. 2014 Aug 22:274:429-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.05.057. Epub 2014 Jun 5.


As the major excitatory neurotransmitter used in the vertebrate brain, glutamate activates ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs), which mediate fast and slow neuronal actions, respectively. Important modulatory roles of mGluRs have been shown in many brain areas, and drugs targeting mGluRs have been developed for the treatment of brain disorders. Here, I review studies on mGluRs in the auditory system. Anatomical expression of mGluRs in the cochlear nucleus has been well characterized, while data for other auditory nuclei await more systematic investigations at both the light and electron microscopy levels. The physiology of mGluRs has been extensively studied using in vitro brain slice preparations, with a focus on the lower auditory brainstem in both mammals and birds. These in vitro physiological studies have revealed that mGluRs participate in neurotransmission, regulate ionic homeostasis, induce synaptic plasticity, and maintain the balance between excitation and inhibition in a variety of auditory structures. However, very few in vivo physiological studies on mGluRs in auditory processing have been undertaken at the systems level. Many questions regarding the essential roles of mGluRs in auditory processing still remain unanswered and more rigorous basic research is warranted.

Keywords: auditory processing; excitotoxicity; mGluR; neuromodulation; neurotransmission; synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Metabotropic Glutamate