Rapid hair cell loss: a mouse model for cochlear lesions

J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2008 Mar;9(1):44-64. doi: 10.1007/s10162-007-0105-8. Epub 2007 Dec 4.


In comparison to other mammals, mice have proved extremely resistant to aminoglycoside-induced hair cell ablation in vivo. In this paper we examine the pattern and extent of cochlear lesions rapidly induced with a combination of a single dose of aminoglycoside (kanamycin) followed by a loop diuretic (bumetanide). With this protocol, the vestibular system was unaffected, but in the cochlea, there was extensive loss of outer hair cells (OHC) that commenced in the basal coil and progressed apically so that, by 48 h, OHC loss was almost complete. TUNEL-positive nuclei and activated caspase-3 labeling demonstrated that most OHC died via a classical apoptotic pathway. However, scattered debris within the OHC region suggested that many apoptotic cells ruptured prior to completion of apoptosis. Following lesion repair, supporting cells retained characteristics of differentiated cells but positional shift occurred. In comparison to OHC loss, inner hair cell (IHC) death was delayed and only observed in 50% of all cochleae examined even after extensive reorganization of the tissue. The coadmininstration of diuretic with FM1-43, used as a tracer for aminoglycoside uptake, indicated entry into IHC as readily as OHC, suggesting that the differential response to aminoglycoside was not due to differential uptake. Where IHC death was ongoing, there were indications of different modes of cell death: cells with morphological features of autophagy, necrosis, and apoptosis were apparent. In addition to damage to the organ of Corti, there was a significant and progressive decrease in strial thickness beginning as early as 7 days posttreatment. This was due predominantly to degeneration of marginal cells. The strial pathology resembled that reported after noise damage and with aging. This in vivo protocol provides a robust model in which to obtain extensive OHC loss in the mature cochleae of mice and is a means with which to examine different aspects of cochlear pathology in transgenic or mutant strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amikacin / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / toxicity*
  • Bumetanide / toxicity*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Survival
  • Cochlear Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Cochlear Diseases / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Diuretics / toxicity*
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Gentamicins / toxicity
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / drug effects*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / ultrastructure
  • Kanamycin / toxicity*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Stria Vascularis / pathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Diuretics
  • FM1 43
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Gentamicins
  • Pyridinium Compounds
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
  • Bumetanide
  • Kanamycin
  • Amikacin