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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Nov;293(5):E1224-32. Epub 2007 Aug 21.

Experimental estrogen-induced hyperprolactinemia results in bone-related hearing loss in the guinea pig.

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CNRS UMR 6153-1147 INRA, Université Paul Cézanne, Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Campus St Jérôme, Cases 351 352, Ave Escadrille Normandie Niémen, 13397, Marseille Cedex 20, France.


Our group (Horner KC, Guieu R, Magnan J, Chays A, Cazals Y. Neuropsychopharmacology 26: 135-138, 2002) has earlier described hyperprolactinemia in some patients presenting inner ear dysfunction. However, in that study, it was not possible to determine whether hyperprolactinemia was a cause or an effect of the symptoms. To investigate the effect of hyperprolactinemia on inner ear function, we first developed a model of hyperprolactinemia in estrogen-primed Fischer 344 rats and then performed functional studies on pigmented guinea pigs. Hyperprolactinemia induced, after 2 mo, a hearing loss of approximately 30-40 dB across all frequencies, as indicated by the compound action potential audiogram. During the 3rd mo, the hearing loss continued to deteriorate. The threshold shifts were more substantial in males than in females. Observations under a dissection microscope revealed bone dysmorphology of the bulla and the cochlea. Light microscopy observations of cryostat sections confirmed bone-related pathology of the bony cochlear bulla and the cochlear wall and revealed morphopathology of the stria vascularis and spiral ligament. Scanning electron microscopy revealed loss of hair cells and stereocilia damage, in particular in the upper three cochlear turns and the two outermost hair cell rows. The data provide the first evidence of otic capsule and hair cell pathology associated with estrogen-induced prolonged hyperprolactinemia and suggest that conditions such as pregnancy, anti-psychotic drug treatment, aging, and/or stress might lead to similar ear dysfunctions.

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