GABA visualized by immunocytochemistry in the guinea pig cochlea in axons and endings of efferent neurons

Jörgen Fex, Richard A. Altschuler, Bechara Kachar, Robert J. Wenthold, John M. Zempel

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Antiserum raised against GABA coupled with glutaraldehyde to bovine serum albumin was applied to the guinea pig cochlea. Immunoreactivity was visualized as horseradish peroxidase reaction product in surface preparations of the organ of Corti using immunocytochemical techniques. Bright-field, differential interference contrast and video-enhanced contrast light microscopy were used. GABA-like immunoreactivity was found in axons and endings of efferent neurons in all turns of the cochlear spiral, but predominantly in the third turn and first half of the fourth turn. In these apical turns, immunoreactivity was seen in the efferent components: inner spiral bundle, tunnel spiral bundle, tunnel-crossing fibers, large nerve endings synapsing on outer hair cell bases, nerve endings high up on outer hair cells, nerve endings or varicosities close to outer hair cells, and outer spiral fibers. Some immunoreactive large nerve endings at outer hair cells were found in the apical half of the fourth turn. This study shows that axons and endings of efferent neurons in the organ of Corti of guinea pig contain GABA-like immunoreactivity with a distribution similar to that of GAD-like immunoreactivity as shown in a previous study. In both studies, many efferent nerve axons and endings were unstained, even in regions of maximal density of immunoreactivity in the apical turns. The evidence indicates that a subpopulation of efferent neurons projecting to the organ of Corti is GABAergic and very likely different from the lateral and the medial olivocochlear efferent systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-117
Number of pages12
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 26 1986


  • cochlea
  • efferent neuron
  • immunocytochemistry
  • olivocochlear
  • video enhanced microscopy
  • γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)


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