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Hassfurth, Benjamin; Magnusson, Anna K.; Grothe, Benedikt ORCID: 0000-0001-7317-0615; Koch, Ursula (2009): Sensory deprivation regulates the development of the hyperpolarization-activated current in auditory brainstem neurons. In: European Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 30, No. 7: pp. 1227-1238
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Hyperpolarization-activated and cyclic nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels are highly expressed in the superior olivary complex, the primary locus for binaural information processing. This hyperpolarization-activated current (I-h) regulates the excitability of neurons and enhances the temporally precise analysis of the binaural acoustic cues. By using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique, we examined the properties of I-h current in neurons of the lateral superior olive (LSO) and the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) before and after hearing onset. Moreover, we tested the hypothesis that I-h currents are actively regulated by sensory input activity by performing bilateral and unilateral cochlear ablations before hearing onset, resulting in a chronic auditory deprivation. The results show that after hearing onset, I-h currents are rapidly upregulated in LSO neurons, but change only marginally in neurons of the MNTB. We also found a striking difference in maximal current density, voltage dependence and activation time constant between the LSO and the MNTB in mature-like animals. Following bilateral cochlear ablations before hearing onset, the I-h currents were scaled up in the LSO and scaled down in the MNTB. Consequently, in the LSO this resulted in a depolarized resting membrane potential and a lower input resistance of these neurons. This type of activity-dependent homeostatic change could thus result in an augmented response to the remaining inputs.