The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors and M-Currents Underlie Efferent-Mediated Slow Excitation in Calyx-Bearing Vestibular Afferents.

PMID 28093476


Stimulation of vestibular efferent neurons excites calyx and dimorphic (CD) afferents. This excitation consists of fast and slow components that differ >100-fold in activation kinetics and response duration. In the turtle, efferent-mediated fast excitation arises in CD afferents when the predominant efferent neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) activates calyceal nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs); however, it is unclear whether the accompanying efferent-mediated slow excitation is also attributed to cholinergic mechanisms. To identify synaptic processes underlying efferent-mediated slow excitation, we recorded from CD afferents innervating the turtle posterior crista during electrical stimulation of efferent neurons, in combination with pharmacological probes and mechanical stimulation. Efferent-mediated slow excitation was unaffected by nAChR compounds that block efferent-mediated fast excitation, but were mimicked by muscarine and antagonized by atropine, indicating that it requires ACh and muscarinic ACh receptor (mAChR) activation. Efferent-mediated slow excitation or muscarine application enhanced the sensitivity of CD afferents to mechanical stimulation, suggesting that mAChR activation increases afferent input impedance by closing calyceal potassium channels. These observations were consistent with suppression of a muscarinic-sensitive K