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Hear Res. 1986;22:199-216.

The responses of inner and outer hair cells in the basal turn of the guinea-pig cochlea and in the mouse cochlea grown in vitro.

Abstract

Until recently the responses of the mechanosensitive hair cells of the cochlea have been inferred from their morphology, morphological relationships with other structures in the cochlea, and by indirect electrophysiological measurements. With the advent of techniques for making intracellular recordings from hair cells in the cochleas of anaesthetised mammals it has been possible to measure the responses of hair cells to acoustic stimulation and to assess their roles in sensory transduction in the cochlea. Intracellular recordings of the responses of inner and outer hair cells in the basal turn of the guinea-pig cochlea show that they differ considerably from each other. The receptor potentials of inner hair cells are larger, predominantly depolarizing to low frequency tones and at their best frequencies (16-20 kHz) they generate depolarizing dc receptor potentials. Outer hair cells generate predominantly hyperpolarizing potentials to low frequency tones. They do not produce significant voltage responses at high frequencies except at high intensities when they generate slowly rising depolarizing potentials which are associated with loss of cochlear sensitivity. At low frequencies the receptor potentials of the inner hair cells phase lead those of the outer hair cell. Measurements of their frequency selectivity show that inner and outer hair cells are both sharply tuned. It is proposed that the responses of inner and outer hair cells are consistent with sensory and motor roles respectively in mechanoelectric transduction and that the outer hair cells are the site of an active mechanical process responsible for the frequency selectivity and sensitivity of the cochlea. Intracellular recordings from hair cells in the mouse cochlea maintained in vivo have provided a direct measure of the mechanosensitivity of cochlear hair cells (approximately 30 mV per degree of displacement of their stereociliary bundles) and indirect evidence that the transfer characteristics of the outer hair cells in vivo may be due to their mechanoelectrical interaction with the tectorial membrane. This is because the transfer characteristics of the inner and outer hair cells are similar in vitro in the absence of a tectorial membrane. Considerable importance is attributed to the shape of the transfer characteristics of the inner and outer hair cells. Changes in these characteristics during anoxia and following exposure to intense tones are associated with depolarization of the outer hair cells and loss of cochlear sensitivity and frequency selectivity. Current-voltage studies of hair cells in vivo show the inner and outer hair cells to be electrically nonlinear.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

PMID:
3733540
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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