Loss of Cochlear Nucleus Neurons following Aminoglycoside Antibiotics or Cochlear Removal

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This study compared the effects of aminoglycoside ototoxicity and surgical ablation of the cochlea in infancy on the survival of neurons in the rat cochlear nucleus (CN). Ototoxicity was induced by a single, systemic dose of gentamicin sulfate and furosemide on postnatal day 6 (P6), P7, or P10, and assessed by the elevation of auditory brain stem response thresholds, as described in a companion paper. Unilateral cochlear removals were performed under Saffan anesthesia on P6, P9, and P12. Rats were painlessly sacrificed in adulthood, and the formalin-perfused brains and cochleas were embedded in wax, sectioned, and stained. Ototoxic treatment at P6 through P10 did not reduce neuron counts in the CN. Cochlear removal at P6 resulted in a 40% loss of CN neurons, but removal at P12 did not result in CN neuron loss. These data suggest that the critical period for the dependence of CN neurons on afferent input from the cochlea ends at the same time that susceptibility to aminoglycoside ototoxicity begins.

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