Regional distribution of neurotrophin receptors in the developing auditory brainstem

Aziz Hafidi, Tasha Moore, Dan H. Sanes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuron survival and axonal regeneration become severely limited during early postnatal development. In conjunction with our recent organotypic analysis of regeneration in the auditory midbrain, we wished to determine whether neurotrophins could serve as a trophic substance during the postnatal period. Therefore, the current study examines the development of three neurotrophin receptor tyrosine kinases (TrkA, TrkB, and TrkC) in the gerbil auditory brainstem. Immunoreactivity to TrkA, the nerve growth-factor receptor, was observed in nonneuronal cells during the first two postnatal weeks. In the cochlear nucleus of mature animals, however, there was a TrkA- positive neuronal subpopulation. In contrast, immunoreactivity to TrkB and TrkC (the receptors for brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin- 3, respectively) displayed a widespread distribution in the auditory brainstem. At postnatal day 0, TrkB and TrkC staining was virtually absent from auditory nuclei, although immunopositive neurons were present in the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus. By postnatal day 7, TrkB- and TrkC-positive neurons were present in most brainstem auditory nuclei. At postnatal day 15, TrkB immunoreactivity was observed throughout the inferior colliculus (IC), the cochlear nucleus, the medial and lateral nuclei of the trapezoid body, and the lateral superior olive, whereas TrkC labeled only a subpopulation of neurons within the central nucleus of the IC. The TrkB immunoreactivity was present on both neuronal somata and dendrites, whereas TrkC was generally restricted to cell bodies. At postnatal day 30, TrkB immunostaining was observed on most neurons of the IC. The medial and lateral nuclei of the trapezoid body displayed extremely strong TrkB staining, followed by the cochlear nucleus. In contrast, the TrkC immunostaining was decreased dramatically by postnatal day 21. Observations at the ultrastructural level confirmed a neuronal localization of TrkB and TrkC. Immunostaining for both receptors was restricted largely to the postsynaptic density of synaptic profiles in both dendrites and somata. In summary, this study illustrates a differential pattern of immunoreactivity between three neurotrophin receptors during development. The general increase of TrkB expression is well correlated with the onset of sound-evoked activity in this system, and its synaptic localization suggests that it may be involved in the modulation or maintenance of postsynaptic physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-464
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 8 1996


  • Trk receptors
  • cochlear nucleus
  • inferior colliculus
  • superior olivary complex
  • synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional distribution of neurotrophin receptors in the developing auditory brainstem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this