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Auditory Brainstem Deficits from Early Treatment with a CSF1R Inhibitor Largely Recover with Microglial Repopulation


Signaling between neurons and glia is necessary for the formation of functional neural circuits. A role for microglia in the maturation of connections in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) was previously demonstrated by postnatal microglial elimination using a colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R). Defective pruning of calyces of Held and significant reduction of the mature astrocyte marker glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were observed after hearing onset. Here, we investigated the time course required for microglia to populate the mouse MNTB after cessation of CSF1R inhibitor treatment. We then examined whether defects seen after microglial depletion were rectified by microglial repopulation. We found that microglia returned to control levels at four weeks of age (18 d postcessation of treatment). Calyceal innervation of MNTB neurons was comparable to control levels at four weeks and GFAP expression recovered by seven weeks. We further investigated the effects of microglia elimination and repopulation on auditory function using auditory brainstem recordings (ABRs). Temporary microglial depletion significantly elevated auditory thresholds in response to 4. 8, and 12 kHz at four weeks. Treatment significantly affected latencies, interpeak latencies, and amplitudes of all the ABR peaks in response to many of the frequencies tested. These effects largely recovered by seven weeks. These findings highlight the functions of microglia in the formation of auditory neural circuits early in development. Further, the results suggest that microglia retain their developmental functions beyond the period of circuit refinement.

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