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Hear Res. 1993 Feb;65(1-2):141-50.

Turn-specific differences in the endocochlear potential between albino and pigmented guinea pigs.

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University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy, Salt Lake City 84132.


Recent findings indicate that structural differences exist in the stria vascularis (SV) between albino and pigmented guinea pigs. In the higher cochlear turns, volume density for marginal cells in the albino SV is abnormally large, while that for intermediate cells (melanocytes) is abnormally small. These anatomical variations suggest that functional differences between albino and pigmented inner ears also may be found. To examine this possibility, four strains of guinea pigs were studied, consisting of Hartley albino (N = 9) and NIH outbred pigmented (N = 15) guinea pigs, as well as albino (N = 11) and pigmented (N = 15) guinea pig siblings born to mixed litters. Tracheotomy and carotid artery cannulation were performed. Animals were mechanically ventilated, with periodic samples drawn for arterial blood gas analysis. Blood pressure, heart rate and rectal temperature were monitored. Compound action potentials were measured first to assess cochlear viability. Positive endocochlear potentials (+EP) then were recorded, beginning with the fourth turn, followed by the first, second and third turns. Results showed that the +EP in albinos remained relatively constant across cochlear turns, but decreased significantly from base to apex in the pigmented inner ears. Across all animals, mean +EPs (mV +/- S.E.M.) for turns 1-4 in albinos were: 72.5 (2.5), 68.7 (2.3), 59.2 (2.7), 68.1 (3.3); pigmented values were: 72.9 (2.9), 66.9 (2.6), 53.8 (3.0), 57.0 (2.7). One-way ANOVAs did not show a significant difference in albino +EPs between any of the cochlear turns, but did indicate a highly significant difference between turns in the pigmented inner ears (P < 0.000004). Post hoc comparisons demonstrated +EPs in turns 3 and 4 were smaller than in turn 1. Since turn 3 was recorded last in these experiments, and was reduced in value relative to turn 4 in both groups, it is likely that cochlear deterioration contributed to this result more than any other factor. These results, combined with previous anatomical data, indicate that a diminution of melanocyte cell volume in the albino SV is accompanied by an increase in marginal cell volume density and larger +EPs in the higher cochlear turns, at least at resting levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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