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Hear Res. 1987;25(2-3):173-83.

Vulnerability of tip links between stereocilia to acoustic trauma in the guinea pig.


The cochleae of anaesthetized guinea pigs were prepared for scanning electron microscopy, immediately after exposure to an intense tone. Stereocilia on hair cells showing relatively small degrees of disruption were analyzed. If the bundles of stereocilia showed no or only a very slight degree of disorganization, the fine links emerging from the tips of the shorter stereocilia remained intact. If the stereocilia were separated more than a very little, the tip links between stereocilia were no longer visible. However, it was possible for tip links to remain intact in some parts of the hair bundle, while tip links in other, more disrupted parts, were lost. In outer hair cells, tip links did not seem any more vulnerable in one position than in another. In inner hair cells, it was commonly found that the tip links running between the tallest stereocilia and the next row of shorter stereocilia had broken, while the tip links running between the other shorter rows of stereocilia remained intact. The results suggest that tip links between stereocilia are preserved as long as the other links between the stereocilia and the cytoskeleton of the stereocilium remain intact. When the latter are damaged the tip links fracture. The results also suggest that, if the tip links are indeed involved in transduction, some degree of stimulus transduction can continue in damaged inner hair cells, albeit with a reduced sensitivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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