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Metabolic Maturation of Auditory Neurones in the Superior Olivary Complex

PLoS ONE 8: e67351.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.006735

Authors/Editors: Trattner B
Gravot C
Grothe B
Kunz L
Publication Date: 2013
Type of Publication: Journal Articles 2001 - 2017


Neuronal activity is energetically costly, but despite its importance, energy production and consumption have been studied in only a few neurone types. Neuroenergetics is of special importance in auditory brainstem nuclei, where neurones exhibit various biophysical adaptations for extraordinary temporal precision and show particularly high firing rates. We have studied the development of energy metabolism in three principal nuclei of the superior olivary complex (SOC) involved in precise binaural processing in the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus). We used immunohistochemistry to quantify metabolic markers for energy consumption (Na+/K+-ATPase) and production (mitochondria, cytochrome c oxidase activity and glucose transporter 3 (GLUT3)). In addition, we calculated neuronal ATP consumption for different postnatal ages (P0-90) based upon published electrophysiological and morphological data. Our calculations relate neuronal processes to the regeneration of Na+ gradients perturbed by neuronal firing, and thus to ATP consumption by Na+/K+-ATPase. The developmental changes of calculated energy consumption closely resemble those of metabolic markers. Both increase before and after hearing onset occurring at P12-13 and reach a plateau thereafter. The increase in Na+/K+-ATPase and mitochondria precedes the rise in GLUT3 levels and is already substantial before hearing onset, whilst GLUT3 levels are scarcely detectable at this age. Based on these findings we assume that auditory inputs crucially contribute to metabolic maturation. In one nucleus, the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), the initial rise in marker levels and calculated ATP consumption occurs distinctly earlier than in the other nuclei investigated, and is almost completed by hearing onset. Our study shows that the mathematical model used is applicable to brainstem neurones. Energy consumption varies markedly between SOC nuclei with their different neuronal properties. Especially for the medial superior olive (MSO), we propose that temporally precise input integration is energetically more costly than the high firing frequencies typical for all SOC nuclei.

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