Peripherin, an intermediate filament protein, is present in neuronal subpopulations of both peripheral and central nervous systems. The distribution of peripherin was studied in the adult rat cochlea using immunohistochemistry on whole mount material, in cryostat sections and sections of plastic embedded tissue. In the spiral ganglion, peripherin labeling was restricted to the perikarya of a subpopulation of neurons and their peripheral and central processes. Peripherin positive neurons had the following features: (i) they have a large eccentric nucleus, they were often found in a cluster of 2 or 3 cells, (ii) they were often located near the intraganglionic spiral bundle fibers, (iii) they represented roughly 8% of the whole ganglion population and (iv) on the average they had smaller perikarya than non-immunoreactive cells. Immunostaining on semithin plastic sections revealed positive reactivity on Type II ganglion cells, while Type I neurons were negative. Double labeling using peripherin and three neurofilament (NF) subunit antibodies confirmed the presence of both markers within the same spiral ganglion cell type. Type II neurons have been previously documented as the only subpopulation of the spiral ganglion that presents a strong positive NF immunoreactivity within their perikarya. In the organ of Corti, peripherin-positive fibers formed bundles that course beneath the outer hair cells and send branches that end as boutons contacting the outer hair cells. All these characteristics suggest that peripherin-positive cells are Type II neurons, and that peripherin constitutes a reliable marker for this spiral ganglion subpopulation, as well as their peripheral and central processes.
Copyright 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.