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Hear Res. 2013 Feb;296:96-106. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2012.12.004. Epub 2012 Dec 25.

Changes in cochlear function during acute endolymphatic hydrops development in guinea pigs.

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The Brain and Mind Research Institute, Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown 2050, Australia.


Previous studies have injected artificial endolymph into scala media in anaesthetized guinea pigs as an acute model of endolymphatic hydrops. Here, we have injected artificial endolymph into scala media in guinea pigs at rates of 40-80 nl/min, whilst monitoring Compound Action Potential (CAP) thresholds, the Summating Potential (SP)/CAP ratio, Cochlear Microphonic (CM) distortion, low-frequency modulated Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAEs), and the Endocochlear Potential (EP). We found that abrupt recovery of CAP thresholds, SP/CAP ratio, and CM and DPOAE asymmetric distortion could occur several times during a single injection of less than 3 μl, suggesting that endolymph pressure could periodically decrease while the injection was ongoing. Larger volumes are thought to produce a rupture of the membranous labyrinth, however, our results suggest that multiple injections, each larger than 3 μl and within 40 min of each other, cause multiple pressure-related changes, which are difficult to be explained on the basis of a simple labyrinth rupture. We have also examined the morphological changes of the temporal bones ex vivo using X-ray micro-tomography. Both the functional changes and the micro-CT images suggest ruptures of the membranous labyrinth may not always be responsible for abrupt changes in inner ear function. Our results provide a new insight into the changes in cochlear function occurring during acute hydrops development, which compares well to the clinical findings observed in Ménière's Disease. We suggest that hydrops development may be a continual process, yet cause discontinuous functional changes due to mechanisms other than a simple rupture of the membranous labyrinth.

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