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Hear Res. 2002 Oct;172(1-2):1-9.

F-actin cleavage in apoptotic outer hair cells in chinchilla cochleas exposed to intense noise.

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  • 1Center for Hearing and Deafness, Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo, 215 parker Hall, 3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


Apoptosis is an active cell death pathway involved in a variety of pathological conditions, including noise-induced outer hair cell (OHC) death. During this process, the cytoskeletal proteins have been found to be either damaged and/or enzymatically disassembled in several cell types, leading to formation of apoptotic manifestations. This study was designed to examine the cleavage of filamentous actin (F-actin), an important cytoskeletal protein, in the cochlear OHCs after noise exposure. Chinchillas were exposed to a 4 kHz narrow band noise at 106 dB SPL for 1 h and cochleas were either collected immediately or 3 h after the noise exposure. The organs of Corti were double-stained using FITC-labeled phalloidin for F-actin and propidium iodide for OHC nuclei. The effect of noise on F-actin and nuclei was examined by confocal microscopy. The result showed that the fluorescence associated with F-actin was decreased in the OHCs possessing condensed nuclei, but remained unchanged in the OHCs with swollen nuclei. The change in F-actin labeling occurred coordinately with the changes in nuclear morphology of apoptotic cells and was prevented by administration of caspase-3 inhibitor (Z-DEVD-FMK). The results of this study indicate that F-actin cleavage is an important early cellular event in apoptotic development in OHCs following exposure to traumatic noise.

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