Otolith-brain stem connectivity: evidence for differential neural activation by vestibular hair cells based on quantification of FOS expression in unilateral labyrinthectomized rats

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Jul;70(1):117-27. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.70.1.117.


1. The effects of acute and chronic labyrinthectomies on Fos-defined neuronal activity induced by rotation were determined with the use of quantitative image analysis procedures. Unilateral sodium arsanilate labyrinthectomies (UL) were performed either 24 h (acute) or 2 wk (chronic) before exposure to a 90 min, 2-G centripetal acceleration along the interaural axis that stimulated the intact otolith organs. The results obtained from both acute and chronic UL animals subjected to centripetal acceleration were compared with data obtained from nonrotated UL animals and fully intact, normal animals exposed to centripetal acceleration. Such comparisons allowed the definition of functional projections from the otolith organs of one labyrinth to vestibular related and inferior olivary brain stem nuclei in the rat. 2. The effect of the labyrinthectomy on nonrotated animals was first assessed. After acute UL, asymmetric Fos expression was present in the medial and inferior vestibular nuclei, the prepositus hypoglossi (bilaterally), the ipsilateral (with respect to the side of UL) dorsolateral periaqueductal gray, and the contralateral inferior olivary beta subnucleus, as previously described (Kaufman et al., 1992b). Except for minimal labeling in the contralateral prepositus hypoglossi and the dorsolateral periaqueductal gray, the Fos labeling that was present in the brain stem of acute UL animals was absent in chronic UL animals. Thus Fos neuronal activity appears to define a pattern of brain stem activation associated with the initial events that underlie vestibular compensation. 3. In acute UL rats, which were rotated, the contralateral beta subnucleus of the inferior olive had greater labeling (compared with nonrotated UL animals) when the lesion was away from the axis of rotation. In contrast, the ipsilateral beta subnucleus labeled when the lesion was towards the axis of rotation. Fos expression was observed bilaterally in the prepositus hypoglossi when the lesioned side was oriented toward the axis of rotation but was observed only in the contralateral prepositus nucleus when the lesioned side was oriented away from the axis of rotation. Finally, the dorsomedial cell column of the inferior olive (DMCC) was heavily labeled when the lesioned side was oriented towards the axis of rotation but was unlabeled when the lesioned side was oriented away from the axis of rotation. In acute UL nonrotated animals the DMCC was only lightly labeled. All other brain stem nuclear labeling was similar between the acute UL rotated and nonrotated animals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Afferent Pathways / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Ear, Inner / innervation*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Gravitation
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / physiology
  • Male
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Otolithic Membrane / innervation*
  • Periaqueductal Gray / physiology
  • Postural Balance / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Rotation
  • Sensory Deprivation / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Vestibular Nuclei / physiology*


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos