Journal Article

Neuronal Circuits Involved in the Middle-Ear Acoustic Reflex

Thomas Venet, Cécile Rumeau, Pierre Campo, Benoît Rieger, Aurélie Thomas and Chantal Cour

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 119, issue 1, pages 146-155
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfq312
Neuronal Circuits Involved in the Middle-Ear Acoustic Reflex

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Human and animal studies have shown that certain aromatic solvents such as toluene can cause hearing loss and can exacerbate the effects of noise. The latter effects might be due to a modification of responses of motoneurons controlling the middle-ear acoustic reflex. In the present investigation, the audition of Long-Evans rats was evaluated by measuring cubic (2f1 − f2) distortion otoacoustic emissions (f1 = 8000 Hz; f2 = 9600 Hz; f1/f2 = 1.2) prior to, during, and after activation of the middle-ear acoustic reflex. A noise suppressor was used to modify the amplitude of the 2f1 − f2 distortion otoacoustic emissions. It was delivered either contralaterally (band noise centered at 4 kHz), or ipsilaterally (3.5 kHz sine wave) to test the role played by the central auditory nuclei. This audiometric approach was used to study the physiological efficiency of the middle-ear acoustic reflex during an injection of a bolus of Intralipid (as a vehicle) containing 58.4, 87.4, or 116.2mM toluene via the carotid artery. The results showed that toluene could either increase or decrease middle-ear acoustic reflex efficiency, depending on the toluene concentration and the ear receiving noise suppressor. A new neuronal circuit of the middle-ear acoustic reflex has been proposed to explain findings obtained in this investigation. Finally, the depressing action of toluene on the central auditory nuclei driving the middle-ear acoustic reflex might explain the synergistic effects of a co-exposure to noise and aromatic solvents.

Keywords: DPOAE; toluene; co-exposure; noise; middle-ear reflex

Journal Article.  5851 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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