The rat as a model for studying noise injury and otoprotection

J Acoust Soc Am. 2019 Nov;146(5):3681. doi: 10.1121/1.5131344.


A major challenge for those studying noise-induced injury pre-clinically is the selection of an animal model. Noise injury models are particularly relevant in an age when people are constantly bombarded by loud noise due to occupation and/or recreation. The rat has been widely used for noise-related morphological, physiological, biochemical, and molecular assessment. Noise exposure resulting in a temporary (TTS) or permanent threshold shift (PTS) yields trauma in peripheral and central auditory related pathways. While the precise nature of noise-related injuries continues to be delineated, both PTS and TTS (with or without hidden hearing loss) result in homeostatic changes implicated in conditions such as tinnitus and hyperacusis. Compared to mice, rats generally tolerate exposure to loud sounds reasonably well, often without exhibiting other physical non-inner ear related symptoms such as death, loss of consciousness, or seizures [Skradski, Clark, Jiang, White, Fu, and Ptacek (2001). Neuron 31, 537-544; Faingold (2002). Hear. Res. 168, 223-237; Firstova, Abaimov, Surina, Poletaeva, Fedotova, and Kovalev (2012). Bull Exp. Biol. Med. 154, 196-198; De Sarro, Russo, Citraro, and Meldrum (2017). Epilepsy Behav. 71, 165-173]. This ability of the rat to thrive following noise exposure permits study of long-term effects. Like the mouse, the rat also offers a well-characterized genome allowing genetic manipulations (i.e., knock-out, viral-based gene expression modulation, and optogenetics). Rat models of noise-related injury also provide valuable information for understanding mechanistic changes to identify therapeutic targets for treatment. This article provides a framework for selection of the rat as a model for noise injury studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / genetics
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / physiopathology*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Rats / genetics
  • Rats / physiology*
  • Species Specificity