Neuroscience letters

FMRFamide-related peptide expression in the vestibular-afferent neurons.

PMID 22342307


Vestibular-afferent neurons innervate hair cells from the sensory epithelia of vestibular end-organs and their action-potential discharge dynamics are driven by linear and angular accelerations of the head. The electrical activity of the vestibular-afferent neurons depends on their intrinsic properties and on the synaptic input from hair cells and from the terminals of the efferent system. Here we report that vestibular-afferent neurons of the rat are immunoreactive to RFamide-related peptides, and that the stronger signal comes from calyx-shaped neuron dendrites, with no signal detected in hair cells or supporting cells. The whole-cell voltage clamp recording of isolated afferent neurons showed that they express robust acid-sensing ionic currents (ASICs). Extracellular multiunit recordings of the vestibular nerve in a preparation in vitro of the rat inner ear showed that the perfusion of FMRFamide (a snail ortholog of this family of neuropeptides) exerts an excitatory effect on the afferent-neurons spike-discharge rate. Because the FMRFamide cannot activate the ASIC but reduces its desensitization generating a more robust current, its effect indicates that the ASIC are tonically active in the vestibular-afferent neurons and modulated by RFamide-like peptides.