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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Diameter of the cochlear nerve in endolymphatic hydrops: implications for the etiology of hearing loss in Ménière's disease.

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: Endolymphatic hydrops (ELH) is an important histopathological hallmark of Ménière's disease. Experimental data from human temporal bones as well as animal models of the disorder have generally failed to determine the mechanism by which ELH or related pathology causes hearing loss. Hair cell and spiral ganglion cell counts in both human and animal case studies have not, for the most part, shown severe enough deterioration to explain associated severe sensorineural hearing loss. However a limited number of detailed ultrastructural studies have demonstrated significant reductions in dendritic innervation densities, raising the possibility that neurotoxicity plays an important role in the pathology of Ménière's disease (MD) as well as experimental endolymphatic hydrops (ELH). This study tests the hypothesis that neurotoxicity is an important primary mediator of injury to the hydropic ear and is reflected in measurable deterioration of the cochlear nerve in the animal model of ELH. This study also explores the previously presented hypothesis that cochlear injury in ELH is mediated through the actions of nitric oxide (NO) by evaluating whether hearing loss or various measures of cochlear damage can be ameliorated by administration of an agent that limits excess production of NO. STUDY DESIGN: Part one of the project involves the surgical induction of endolymphatic hydrops and correlation of long term hearing loss with histological parameters of ELH severity as well as cochlear nerve and eighth cranial nerve diameter measurements. In part two, aminoguanidine is administered orally to a separate set of hydropic animals in an attempt to limit cochlear injury presumably mediated by NO. METHODS: Guinea pigs are subjected to surgical induction of unilateral endolymphatic hydrops after establishing baseline ABR thresholds at 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32 kHz. Threshold shifts are established prior to sacrifice at 4 to 6 months and temporal bones processed for light microscopy. Measurements of cochlear nerve and eighth cranial nerve maximal diameters as well as average maximal diameters are carried out and correlated to hearing loss and a semi-quantitative measure of hydrops severity. The identical experiments are carried out in animals treated with aminoguanidine, an inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase. RESULTS:: The mean maximal diameter (n = 14) of the hydropic cochlear nerve was significantly reduced (432.14 +/- 43.18 vs. 479.28 +/- 49.22 microns, P = .0025) as compared to the control nerve. This was also seen in measures of the eighth cranial nerve (855.71 +/- 108.82 vs. 929 +/- 81.53 microns, P = 0.0003). Correlation studies failed to show correlation between hydrops severity and a cochlear nerve deterioration index (r = -0.0614, P = .8348). Similarly, hearing loss severity failed to correlate with cochlear nerve deterioration (r = 0.1300, P = .6577). There was a significant correlation between hearing loss and hydrops severity (r = 0.6148, P = .0193). Aminoguanidine treated animals (n = 5) also sustained nerve deterioration to the same degree as non-treated animals and there appeared to be no protective effect (at the dosage administered) against ELH related hearing loss, hydrops formation, or nerve deterioration. CONCLUSION: ELH results in significant deterioration of cochlear nerve and eighth cranial nerve maximal diameters in the guinea pig model. These findings are in accord with previous studies which detected ultrastructural evidence of dendritic damage and indicate that neural injury is of sufficient severity to result in light microscopic evidence of cochlear nerve and eighth cranial nerve deterioration. These data support the concept that the principle pathological insult in ELH is a form of neurotoxicity, especially in light of previous studies which indicate relative preservation of hair cells at similar points in time. The lack of correlation between the severity of hydrops and nerve deterioration suggests that nerve deterioration is independent of hydrops severity.[1]


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