Afferent innervation of outer hair cells in adult cats: II. Electron microscopic analysis of fibers labeled with horseradish peroxidase

Authors

  • D. D. Simmons,

    Corresponding author
    1. Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, 02114
    2. Program in Cell and Developmental Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02115, Massachusetts
    3. Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California 90265
    • Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA 90265
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  • M. C. Liberman

    1. Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, 02114
    2. Program in Cell and Developmental Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02115, Massachusetts
    3. Departments of Physiology and Otolaryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02115, Massachusetts
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Abstract

Outer spiral fibers (OSFs) were retrogradely labeled with injections of horseradish peroxidase. After the peripheral arborization patterns were reconstructed at the light microscopic level (Simmons and Liberman, '88), restricted regions of selected fibers were analyzed via electron-microscopic reconstruction of serial sections. The ultrastructural data in the present study suggested that the contact between the outer hair cell (OHC) and the terminal swellings of OSFs corresponds to the afferent synapse described in numerous other ultrastructural studies. The en passant swellings that contacted OHCs also appeared to be points of synaptic contact. However, en passant synapses were not always associated with a swelling of the OSF at the point of contact: thus, the light-microscopic reconstructions probably underestimate the numbers of synapses. OSF branches terminating well below the OHCs were seen to end most commonly in intimate contact with the Deiters' cells. Membrane specialization was occasionally seen at this point of contact; however, the specialization was sufficiently undifferentiated to preclude identification.

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