Effects of age-related hearing loss on startle reflex and prepulse inhibition in mice on pure and mixed C57BL and 129 genetic background

Behav Brain Res. 2006 Sep 25;172(2):307-15. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2006.05.018. Epub 2006 Jun 30.


The present study examined the developmental course of the age-related hearing loss and its consequences on the expression of acoustic startle reflex (ASR) and prepulse inhibition (PPI) generated by white-noise bursts in 129S2/SvPas (129) and C57BL/6J (C57) mouse strains and their F(1) hybrids. Auditory brainstem responses (ABR), ASR and PPI were assessed at various time points: 6, 28, 41 and 94 weeks. Both parental strains showed marked ABR threshold shifts with age, with C57 mice having the most pronounced deficits. By contrast, the hybrids displayed only minor hearing loss with age. The time courses of ASR and PPI varied considerably between the mouse strains. From 6 to 41 weeks of age, ASR and PPI elicited by weak stimuli (70-90dB) increased in C57 mice, whereas the startle responses to intense stimuli (95-120dB) declined progressively. In 129 and hybrid mice, PPI levels remained relatively stable during the first year, but a progressive increase of ASR was observed in the hybrids for intense stimuli (95-120dB). When animals reached 94 weeks of age, marked deterioration of ASR was observed in all strains, while deficits in PPI were only seen in 129 and C57 mice. These findings show that the time course and the severity of the hearing loss vary considerably between 129, C57 strains and their hybrids, thus suggesting a marked heterogeneity in the genetic mechanisms underlying deafness in mice. They also demonstrate that the age-related hearing loss may have complex consequences on auditory behavioral performances depending of the severity of the deficits, the genetic background as well as the stimuli parameters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Association Learning / physiology
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology*
  • Hearing Loss* / genetics
  • Hearing Loss* / physiopathology
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Neural Inhibition / genetics
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Presbycusis / genetics
  • Presbycusis / physiopathology*
  • Reflex, Startle / genetics
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology*
  • Species Specificity
  • Statistics, Nonparametric