• endbulb of Held;
  • transynaptic labeling;
  • bushy cell


Auditory nerve fibers were labeled by extracellular injections of horseradish peroxidase into the spiral ganglion in mice. The labeled fibers were traced in an anterograde direction through the auditory nerve into the cochlear nucleus. In almost half of the injections, the labeled endings of auditory nerve fibers contacted cochlear nucleus neurons that were also labeled with horseradish peroxidase and were presumably transneuronally labeled. Only darkly labeled endings were associated with transneuronally labeled neurons, but not all darkly labeled endings had targets that were transneuronally labeled. Transneuronal labeling occurred almost exclusively in the ventral cochlear nucleus, often between endbulbs and bushy cells. Both “modified” endbulbs and the larger endbulbs of Held transneuronally labeled the bushy cells that they contacted. At the ultrastructural level, transneuronal labeling was evident as a darkening of ribosomes and the membrane surfaces of mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and the nucleus. Transneuronal labeling occurred rarely in octopus, small, and stellate cells, and in neurons of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. Spiral ganglion injections also label olivocochlear fibers, efferent fibers that pass through the ganglion en route to the hair cells. These fibers give off branches to the cochlear nucleus that were rarely associated with transneuronal labeling. In eight instances, the targets of olivocochlear branches were stellate cells or small cells. We suggest that in our mouse preparation, horseradish peroxidase is effective as a transneuronal marker because the short distance from injection site to the cochlear nucleus results in a high concentration of horseradish peroxidase in the endings of the auditory nerve fibers. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.