Simultaneous exposure to ethyl benzene and noise: synergistic effects on outer hair cells

Hear Res. 2001 Dec;162(1-2):67-79. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(01)00373-2.


The effects on hearing of simultaneous exposure to the ototoxic organic solvent ethyl benzene and broad-band noise were evaluated in rats. The effects of three ethyl benzene concentrations (0, 300 or 400 ppm) and three noise levels (95 or 105 dB(lin) SPL or background noise at 65 dB(lin) SPL) and all their combinations were investigated for a 5 day exposure at 8 h/day. Distortion product otoacoustic emissions and compound action potentials were affected after 105 dB noise alone, and after 105 dB noise in combination with ethyl benzene (300 and 400 ppm). However, the amount of loss for these combinations did not exceed the loss for 105 dB noise alone. Outer hair cell (OHC) loss after exposure to 300 ppm ethyl benzene was located in the third row of OHCs. At 400 ppm, the loss spread out to the second and first row of OHCs. Noise alone hardly affected the OHC counts except for a minor loss in the first row of OHCs after 105 dB SPL. Noise at 105 dB in combination with ethyl benzene at 300 and 400 ppm, however, showed OHC loss greater than the sum of the losses induced by noise and ethyl benzene alone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Audiometry, Evoked Response
  • Benzene Derivatives / pharmacology*
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / drug effects*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / pathology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / physiology*
  • Noise*
  • Otoacoustic Emissions, Spontaneous
  • Perceptual Distortion
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Benzene Derivatives
  • ethylbenzene