Journal Article

Promotion of Noise-Induced Cochlear Injury by Toluene and Ethylbenzene in the Rat

Laurence D. Fechter, Caroline Gearhart, Sherry Fulton, Jerry Campbell, Jeffrey Fisher, Kwangsam Na, David Cocker, Alisa Nelson-Miller, Patrick Moon and Benoit Pouyatos

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 98, issue 2, pages 542-551
Published in print August 2007 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI:
Promotion of Noise-Induced Cochlear Injury by Toluene and Ethylbenzene in the Rat

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Ethylbenzene + toluene are known individually to have ototoxic potential at high exposure levels and with prolonged exposure times generally of 4–16 weeks. Both ethylbenzene + toluene are minor constituents of JP-8 jet fuel; this fuel has recently been determined to promote susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss. Therefore, the current study evaluates the ototoxic potential of combined exposure to ethylbenzene + toluene exposure in a ratio calculated from the average found in three laboratories. Rats received ethylbenzene + toluene by inhalation and half of them were subjected simultaneously to an octave band of noise (OBN) of 93–95 dB. Another group received only the noise exposure which was designed to produce a small, but permanent auditory impairment while an unexposed control group was also included. In two separate experiments, exposures occurred either repeatedly on 5 successive days for 1 week or for 5 days on 2 successive weeks to 4000 mg/m3 total hydrocarbons for 6 h based upon initial pilot studies. The concentration of toluene was 400 ppm and the concentration of ethylbenzene was 660 ppm. Impairments in auditory function were assessed using distortion product otoacoustic emissions and compound action potential testing. Following completion of these tests, the organs of Corti were dissected to permit evaluation of hair cell loss. The uptake and elimination of the solvents was assessed by harvesting key organs at two time points following ethylbenzene + toluene exposure from additional rats not used for auditory testing. Similarly, glutathione (GSH) levels were measured in light of suggestions that oxidative stress might result from solvent–noise exposures. Ethylbenzene + toluene exposure by itself at 4000 mg/m3 for 6 h did not impair cochlear function or yield a loss of hair cells. However, when combined with a 93-dB OBN exposure combined solvent + noise did yield a loss in auditory function and a clear potentiation of outer hair cell death that exceeded the loss produced by noise alone. No evidence was found for a loss in total GSH in lung, liver, or brain as a consequence of ethylbenzene + toluene exposure.

Keywords: ethylbenzene + toluene; jet fuel; auditory function; ototoxicity

Journal Article.  6237 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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