To investigate whether the saccule exhibits temporary or permanent functional loss resembling threshold shifts in auditory brainstem response (ABR) of guinea pigs following noise exposure.
Randomly bred guinea pigs were divided into 3 groups: A (short-term noise exposure, 30 minutes, n = 15), B (long-term noise exposure, 40 hours, n = 9), and C (no noise exposure, n = 5).
Main Outcome Measures
All animals underwent vestibular-evoked myogenic potential (VEMP) and ABR tests. Chronological changes of VEMP and ABR responses following noise exposure were analyzed and compared. After audiovestibular function testing, animals were killed for morphological study with light and electron microscopy.
In group A, temporary VEMP loss and ABR threshold shifts recovered 2 and 4 days, respectively, after short-term noise exposure, with an interval of 2 days earlier in the recovery of VEMPs than that of ABR thresholds. In contrast, in group B, 78% and 83% of the ears exhibited permanent VEMP loss and ABR threshold shifts, respectively, 10 days following long-term noise exposure. In group C, all animals showed normal VEMPs and ABRs throughout the study period. Light and electron microscopic studies confirmed that loss of VEMPs correlated with saccular lesion.
The saccule can exhibit temporary or permanent functional loss resembling hearing threshold shifts in guinea pigs following noise exposure. Recovery of VEMP precedes restoration of hearing threshold after damage from short-term noise exposure. Conversely, permanent VEMP loss after long-term noise exposure may reflect permanent hearing threshold shifts.