Neurotrophins, a class of growth factor proteins that control neuronal proliferation, morphology, and apoptosis, are found ubiquitously throughout the nervous system. One particular neurotrophin (NT-3) and its cognate tyrosine receptor kinase (TrkC) have recently received attention as a possible therapeutic target for synaptopathic sensorineural hearing loss. Additionally, research shows that NT-3-TrkC signaling plays a role in establishing the sensory organization of frequency topology (ie, tonotopic order) in the cochlea of the peripheral inner ear. However, the neurotrophic effects of NT-3 on central auditory properties are unclear. In this study we examined whether NT-3-TrkC signaling affects the intrinsic electrophysiological properties at a first-order central auditory structure in chicken, known as nucleus magnocellularis (NM). Here, the expression pattern of specific neurotrophins is well known and tightly regulated. By using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology, we show that NT-3 application to brainstem slices does not affect intrinsic properties of high-frequency neuronal regions but had robust effects for low-frequency neurons, altering voltage-dependent potassium functions, action potential repolarization kinetics, and passive membrane properties. We suggest that NT-3 may contribute to the precise establishment and organization of tonotopy in the central auditory pathway by playing a specialized role in regulating the development of intrinsic neuronal properties of low-frequency NM neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas