Salt, A et al, Displacements of the Organ of Corti by Gel Injections Into the Cochlear Apex

Elsevier Hearing Research, February 2009
Alec N. Salt, Daniel J. Brown, Jared J. Hartsock, Stefan K. Plontke


In order to transduce sounds efficiently, the stereocilia of hair cells in the organ of Corti must be positioned optimally. Mechanical displacements, such as pressure differentials across the organ caused by endolymphatic hydrops, may impair sensitivity. Studying this phenomenon has been limited by the technical difficulty of inducing sustained displacements of stereocilia in vivo.

We have found that small injections (0.5-2μL) of Healon gel into the cochlear apex of guinea pigs produced sustained changes of endocochlear potential (EP), summating potential (SP) and transducer operating point (OP) in a manner consistent with a mechanically-induced change of the organ of Corti in the basal turn.

Induced changes immediately recovered when injection ceased. In addition, effects of low-frequency bias tones on EP, SP and OP were enhanced during the injection of gel and remained hypersensitive after injection ceased. This is thought to result from the viscous gel mechanically limiting pressure shunting through the helicotrema.

Cochlear microphonics measured as frequency was varied showed enhancement below 100Hz but most notably in the sub-auditory range. 

Sensitivity to low-frequency biasing was also enhanced in animals with surgically-induced endolymphatic hydrops, suggesting that obstruction of the perilymphatic space by hydrops could contribute to the pathophysiology of this condition.

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