Cochlear spiral ganglion neurons (SGN) provide the only pathway for transmitting sound evoked activity from the hair cells to the central auditory system. Neurotrophic factor 3 (NT-3) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) released from hair cells and supporting cells exert a profound effect on SGN survival and neural firing patterns; however, it is unclear what the effects NT-3 and BDNF have on the type of neurotransmitter receptors expressed on SGN. To address this question, the whole-cell patch clamp recording technique was used to determine what effect NT-3 and BDNF had on the function and expression of glutamate, GABA and glycine receptors (GlyR) on SGN of cochlea from postnatal C57 mouse. Receptor currents induced by the agonist of each receptor were recorded from SGN cultured with or without BDNF or NT-3. NT-3 and BDNF exerted different effects. NT-3, and to a lesser extent BDNF, enhanced the expression of GABA receptors and had comparatively little effect on glutamate receptors. Absence of BDNF and NT-3 resulted in the emergence of glycine-induced currents; however, GlyR currents were absent from the short term cultured SGN. In contrast, NT-3 and BDNF suppressed GlyR expression on SGN. These results indicate that NT-3 and BDNF exert a profound effect on the types of neurotransmitter receptors expressed on postnatal SGN, results that may have important implications for neural development and plasticity.
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