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Thyroid hormone is required for pruning, functioning and long-term maintenance of afferent inner hair cell synapses.

Eur J Neurosci; 43(2): 148-61, 2016 Jan.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26386265
Functional maturation of afferent synaptic connections to inner hair cells (IHCs) involves pruning of excess synapses formed during development, as well as the strengthening and survival of the retained synapses. These events take place during the thyroid hormone (TH)-critical period of cochlear development, which is in the perinatal period for mice and in the third trimester for humans. Here, we used the hypothyroid Snell dwarf mouse (Pit1(dw)) as a model to study the role of TH in afferent type I synaptic refinement and functional maturation. We observed defects in afferent synaptic pruning and delays in calcium channel clustering in the IHCs of Pit1(dw) mice. Nevertheless, calcium currents and capacitance reached near normal levels in Pit1(dw) IHCs by the age of onset of hearing, despite the excess number of retained synapses. We restored normal synaptic pruning in Pit1(dw) IHCs by supplementing with TH from postnatal day (P)3 to P8, establishing this window as being critical for TH action on this process. Afferent terminals of older Pit1(dw) IHCs showed evidence of excitotoxic damage accompanied by a concomitant reduction in the levels of the glial glutamate transporter, GLAST. Our results indicate that a lack of TH during a critical period of inner ear development causes defects in pruning and long-term homeostatic maintenance of afferent synapses.