Photobiomodulation by laser therapy rescued auditory neuropathy induced by ouabain

Neurosci Lett. 2016 Oct 28:633:165-173. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.09.039. Epub 2016 Sep 22.


Auditory neuropathy is a hearing disorder caused by impaired auditory nerve function. The lack of information about the pathophysiology of this disease limits early diagnosis and further treatment. Laser therapy is a novel approach to enhance nerve growth or induce axonal regeneration. We induced auditory neural degeneration sparing the sensory epithelium with local ouabain application in an animal model and observed the rescue effect of photobiomodulation (PBM), showing recovered auditory function and favorable histologic outcome. Hearing was evaluated using the auditory brainstem response (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE). Seven days after ouabain application, the animals were sacrificed to evaluate the morphological changes. DPOAE change was not observed in all groups after ouabain application indicating no changes of outer hair cell function. Ouabain application increased the ABR thresholds increase, while the use of ouabain plus laser produced lower threshold compared to the ouabain group. Hematoxylin and Eosin staining of cochlea mid-modiolar sections in animals treated with ouabain showed damaged spiral ganglion cells, neurofilaments, and post synaptic puncta. Ouabain plus laser group showed higher number of spiral ganglion cells, higher density of neurofilaments, and higher number post synaptic puncta counts compared with ouabain application group. Short-term application of ouabain caused spiral ganglion cell damage while sparing the inner and outer hair cells in gerbils. Photobiomodulation alleviated the hearing loss caused by ouabain induced auditory neuropathy. The results indicate the possible role of photobiomodulation therapy for inner ear diseases accompanied by spiral ganglion degeneration.

Keywords: ABR; Ouabain; Photobiomodulation; Spiral ganglion neurons; Synaptic puncta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
  • Female
  • Gerbillinae
  • Hearing Loss, Central / pathology
  • Hearing Loss, Central / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss, Central / radiotherapy*
  • Low-Level Light Therapy*
  • Nerve Fibers / pathology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Ouabain*
  • Spiral Ganglion / pathology
  • Synapses / pathology


  • Ouabain

Supplementary concepts

  • Auditory neuropathy