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Goto, Fumiyuki; Straka, Hans ORCID: 0000-0003-2874-0441; Dieringer, Norbert (2002): Gradual and reversible central vestibular reorganization in frog after selective labyrinthine nerve branch lesions. In: Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 147, No. 3: pp. 374-386
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Abstract

Postlesional reorganization of vestibular afferent and commissural inputs onto second-order vestibular neurons was studied in the isolated brain after unilateral section of the N.VIII, of the ramus anterior (RA) of N.VIII, of the utricular (UT) or of the anterior vertical and horizontal canal nerves in combination. RA nerve section eliminated the inputs from utricular, anterior vertical and horizontal canal organs. In the first set of experiments we recorded field potentials on the operated side of the vestibular nuclei 2 months after RA nerve section. These responses were evoked by electrical stimulation of the RA nerve or of the posterior vertical canal nerve on the operated or on the intact side. The amplitudes of afferent field potentials evoked by stimulation of the spared posterior vertical canal nerve were increased. The amplitudes of afferent field potentials evoked by stimulation of the axotomized RA nerve remained unaltered. After N.VIII section the commissural, but not the afferent, field potentials increased significantly on the operated side following stimulation of N.VIII on the intact and on the operated side, respectively. After UT nerve section no change in commissural but an increase in the amplitude of afferent field potentials from each of the three intact canal nerves was observed on the operated side. In the context of earlier results these findings imply that second-order vestibular neurons, disfacilitated due to afferent nerve section, became receptive to additional, excitatory synaptic inputs, preferentially from intact vestibular nerve afferent fibers. The reduced excitation via afferent nerve inputs was thereby replaced by other afferent nerve inputs from spatially inadequate vestibular end-organs. The synaptic terminals of inactivated afferent nerve fibers were maintained and not repressed. The process of central reorganization after vestibular nerve lesion was activity related, the expansion of signals restricted to inputs from intact fibers, its extent graded and its onset delayed with respect to the onset of corresponding spinal changes and to the onset of postural recovery after the same type of nerve lesion. After the section of RA nerve or of an individual nerve branch the labyrinthine end-organs remained intact and were not removed as after unilateral labyrinthectomy (UL). Peripheral reinnervation of the end-organs was thus excluded after UL, but expected after one of the former types of lesion. Functional reinnervation of the utricular macula was mirrored behaviorally by the reappearance of severe postural deficits following a second RA nerve section. These lesion-induced postural deficits began to reappear if the repeated RA nerve section was delayed with respect to the first by about 3 months. We therefore studied postlesional reorganization in the brainstem 3 months after the first RA nerve section. Reinnervation of the utricular macula was accompanied by a rapid decline of the increased amplitudes of afferent and commissural vestibular field potentials towards control values, suggesting the reversibility of the lesion-induced central reorganization.