Terminal dendritic sprouting and reactive synaptogenesis in the postnatal organ of Corti in culture

J Comp Neurol. 1998 Jul 27;397(2):213-30. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9861(19980727)397:2<213::aid-cne5>3.0.co;2-3.


Synaptogenesis in the organ of Corti between the primary receptors, the inner hair cells, and the peripheral processes of their afferent spiral ganglion neurons in the mouse lasts for 5 days postnatally (Sobkowicz et al. [1986] J. Neurocytol. 15:693-714). The transplantation of the organ into culture at the fifth postnatal day induces a reactive sprouting of dendritic terminals and an extensive formation of new ribbon synapses within 24 hours. This reactive synaptogenesis differs strikingly from the primary synaptogenesis and has been seen thus far only in the inner hair cells. The synaptically engaged neuronal endings sprout a multitude of filopodia that intussuscept the inner hair cells. The filopodial tips contain a heavy electron-dense matter that appears to attract the synaptic ribbons, which form new synaptic contacts with the growing processes. The intensity of the filopodial growth and synaptogenesis subsides in about 3 days; the filopodia undergo resorption, leaving behind fibrous cytoplasmic plaques mostly stored in the supranuclear part of the hair cells. However, occasional filopodial growth and formation of new synaptic connections continued. The data demonstrate that any disruption or disturbance of the initial synaptic contacts between the inner hair cells and their afferent neurons caused by transplantation results in prompt synaptic reacquisition. Furthermore, we suggest that the transitory phase of terminal sprouting and multiribbon synapse formation manifests a trophic dependence that develops postnatally between the synaptic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Nerve Endings / physiology*
  • Nerve Endings / ultrastructure
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Organ of Corti / physiology*
  • Organ of Corti / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / physiology*