The Structural Development of the Mouse Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus

  • Miaomiao Mao
  • Johanna M. Montgomery
  • M. Fabiana Kubke
  • Peter R. ThorneEmail author
Research Article


The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) is a major subdivision of the mammalian cochlear nucleus (CN) that is thought to be involved in sound localization in the vertical plane and in feature extraction of sound stimuli. The main principal cell type (pyramidal cells) integrates auditory and non-auditory inputs, which are considered to be important in performing sound localization tasks. This study aimed to investigate the histological development of the CD-1 mouse DCN, focussing on the postnatal period spanning the onset of hearing (P12). Fluorescent Nissl staining revealed that the three layers of the DCN were identifiable as early as P6 with subsequent expansion of all layers with age. Significant increases in the size of pyramidal and cartwheel cells were observed between birth and P12. Immunohistochemistry showed substantial changes in synaptic distribution during the first two postnatal weeks with subsequent maturation of the presumed mossy fibre terminals. In addition, GFAP immunolabelling identified several glial cell types in the DCN including the observation of putative tanycytes for the first time. Each glial cell type had specific spatial and temporal patterns of maturation with apparent rapid development during the first two postnatal weeks but little change thereafter. The rapid maturation of the structural organization and DCN components prior to the onset of hearing possibly reflects an influence from spontaneous activity originating in the cochlea/auditory nerve. Further refinement of these connections and development of the non-auditory connections may result from the arrival of acoustic input and experience dependent mechanisms.


cochlear nucleus dorsal cochlear nucleus auditory brainstem postnatal development mouse 



This research was published as part of a PhD thesis by M Mao and was supported by a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship, an Auckland Medical Research Foundation Senior Scholarship and a University of Auckland School of Medical Sciences writing scholarship.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Research in Otolaryngology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miaomiao Mao
    • 1
    • 4
  • Johanna M. Montgomery
    • 1
    • 4
  • M. Fabiana Kubke
    • 2
    • 4
  • Peter R. Thorne
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Anatomy and Radiology, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Section of Audiology, School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  4. 4.Centre for Brain ResearchUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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