The C57BL/6J mouse has been a useful model of presbycusis, as it displays an accelerated age-related peripheral hearing loss. The medial olivocochlear efferent feedback (MOC) system plays a role in suppressing cochlear outer hair cell (OHC) responses, particularly for background noise. Neurons of the MOC system are located in the superior olivary complex, particularly in the dorsomedial periolivary nucleus (DMPO) and in the ventral nucleus of the trapezoid body (VNTB). We previously discovered that the function of the MOC system declines with age prior to OHC degeneration, as measured by contralateral suppression (CS) of distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) in humans and CBA mice. The present study aimed to determine the time course of age changes in MOC function in C57s. DPOAE amplitudes and CS of DPOAEs were collected for C57s from 6 to 40 weeks of age. MOC responses were observed at 6 weeks but were gone at middle (15-30 kHz) and high (30-45 kHz) frequencies by 8 weeks. Quantitative stereological analyses of Nissl sections revealed smaller neurons in the DMPO and VNTB of young adult C57s compared with CBAs. These findings suggest that reduced neuron size may underlie part of the noteworthy rapid decline of the C57 efferent system. In conclusion, the C57 mouse has MOC function at 6 weeks, but it declines quickly, preceding the progression of peripheral age-related sensitivity deficits and hearing loss in this mouse strain.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.