Pattern of synaptophysin immunoreactivity in the efferent nerve terminals of the guinea pig cochlea

Neurosci Lett. 1997 Feb 7;222(3):199-203. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(97)13364-x.


The goal of the present study was to analyze the distribution of efferent 8th nerve synaptic endings in a surface preparation of the guinea pig cochlea using synaptophysin antibodies. Employing light and confocal microscopy synaptophysin immunoreactivity was found exclusively at the base of the outer hair cells (OHCs) and the inner hair cells (IHCs) axosomatic efferent synapses. Qualitative and quantitative differences were found between the OHCs and the IHCs immunoreactivity. Efferent nerve endings innervating IHCs were comparatively smaller, more numerous and densely packed. Efferent terminals demonstrated a longitudinal gradient for the IHCs and a longitudinal and radial gradient for the OHCs. Quantitative analysis of synaptophysin immunofluorescence demonstrated a higher percentage of efferent terminals innervating the IHCs and the OHCs in the mid and basal segments of the cochlea than in the apical regions. In addition, a radial gradient from the 1st to 3rd row of OHCs was evident. The results from the present study show that the analysis of synaptophysin immunoreactivity on cochlear surface preparations allows the efferent innervation to be determined throughout the entire cochlea. This technique allows for a rapid assessment of the normal cochlea as well as after cochlear insult.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cochlea / chemistry*
  • Cochlea / innervation
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Inner / chemistry
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / chemistry
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Nerve Endings / chemistry*
  • Synaptophysin / analysis*


  • Synaptophysin