The axon initial segment, nodes of Ranvier, and the oligodendrocyte-derived myelin sheath have significant influence on the firing patterns of neurons and the faithful, coordinated transmission of action potentials to downstream brain regions. In the olfactory bulb, olfactory discrimination tasks lead to adaptive changes in cell firing patterns, and the output signals must reliably travel large distances to other brain regions along highly myelinated tracts. Whether myelinated axons adapt to facilitate olfactory sensory processing is unknown. Here, we investigate the morphology and physiology of mitral cell axons in the adult olfactory system, and show that unilateral sensory deprivation causes system-wide adaptations in axons. Mitral cell spiking patterns and action potentials also adapted to sensory deprivation. Strikingly, both axonal morphology and mitral cell physiology were altered on both the deprived and non-deprived sides, indicating system level adaptations to reduced sensory input. Our work demonstrates a previously unstudied mechanism of plasticity in the olfactory system.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience