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Neuroscience. 2010 Feb 17;165(4):1323-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.11.048. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

Behavioral assessment and identification of a molecular marker in a salicylate-induced tinnitus in rats.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Osaka University, School of Medicine, Suita-City, Osaka, Japan.


Tinnitus is a non-observable phantom sensation. As such, it is a difficult condition to investigate and, to date, no effective treatment has been developed. To approach this phantom sensation, we aimed to develop a rat behavioral model of tinnitus using salicylate, an active component of aspirin known to induce tinnitus. We also aimed to establish a molecular marker of tinnitus by assessing the expression of transient receptor potential cation channel superfamily V-1 (TRPV1) in the rat auditory pathway during salicylate-induced tinnitus. Animals were trained to perform "an active avoidance task": animals were conditioned by electrical footshock to move to the other side of the conditioning box when hearing a sound. Animals received a single injection of saline or salicylate (400 mg/kg i.p.) and false positive responses were measured 2 h after injection as the number of movements during a silent period. The number of responses in salicylate-treated animals was highest when the conditioned stimulus was 60 dB sound pressure level (SPL) and 16 kHz. This indicates that animals could feel tinnitus 2 h after salicylate injection, equivalent to that induced by 60 dB SPL and 16 kHz. By means of real-time PCR and western blot analysis, TRPV1 expression was significantly upregulated in spiral ganglion cells 2 h after salicylate injection and this upregulation together with the increase in the number of false positive responses was significantly suppressed by capsazepine (10 mg/kg i.p.), a specific antagonist of TRPV1. This suggests that salicylate could induce tinnitus through activation of TRPV1 in the rat auditory pathway.

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