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Hear Res. 2012 Jan;283(1-2):89-97. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2011.11.004. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Plasticity of serotonergic innervation of the inferior colliculus in mice following acoustic trauma.

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Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Indiana University, USA.


Acoustic trauma often results in permanent damage to the cochlea, triggering changes in processing within central auditory structures such as the inferior colliculus (IC). The serotonergic neuromodulatory system, present in the IC, is responsive to chronic changes in the activity of sensory systems. The current study investigated whether the density of serotonergic innervation in the IC is changed following acoustic trauma. The trauma stimulus consisted of an 8 kHz pure tone presented at a level of 113 dB SPL for six consecutive hours to anesthetized CBA/J mice. Following a minimum recovery period of three weeks, serotonergic fibers were visualized via histochemical techniques targeting the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) and quantified using stereologic probes. SERT-positive fiber densities were then compared between the traumatized and protected hemispheres of unilaterally traumatized subjects and those of controls. A significant effect of acoustic trauma was found between the hemispheres of unilaterally traumatized subjects such that the IC contralateral to the ear of exposure contained a lower density of SERT-positive fibers than the IC ipsilateral to acoustic trauma. No significant difference in density was found between the hemispheres of control subjects. Additional dimensions of variability in serotonergic fibers were seen among subdivisions of the IC and with age. The central IC had a slightly but significantly lowered density of serotonergic fibers than other subdivisions of the IC, and serotonergic fibers also declined with age. Overall, the results indicate that acoustic trauma is capable of producing modest but significant decreases in the density of serotonergic fibers innervating the IC.

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