Noise-induced changes in red blood cell velocity in lateral wall vessels of the rat cochlea

W. S. Quirk, B. D. Shapiro, J. M. Miller, A. L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The effects of loud sound on the microvasculature of the cochlea are not well characterized or understood. Morphological changes in the stria vascularis and changes in blood flow are known to occur during or following sound stimulation, however the effects on cochlear blood flow appear to be complex. Studies have shown that noise exposure may produce increases in blood flow, decreases in blood flow, or no measureable change in blood flow. These inconsistent results probably reflect the various noise exposure parameters, the animal model used, and could be a function of the specific procedures utilized to assess blood flow changes. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the effects of one specific class of sound exposure (high intensity noise) on red blood cell velocity in the capillaries of the second turn of the rat cochlea using intravital microscopy. This class of sound exposure was selected in order to attempt a confirmation of previous findings of increased blood flow (Perlman and Kimura, 1962) using the quantitative technique of red blood cell velocity measurement. Following determination of pre-exposure red blood cell velocities in capillaries of the rat cochlea second turn, animals were exposed to 133 dB or 110 dB broad-band noise for ten minutes. The red blood cell velocity was recorded continuously during the exposure. Exposure to both sound intensities disrupted stable and orderly baseline flow patterns and resulted in overall intensity-dependent increases in red blood cell velocity. Qualitatively, we observed aggregations of red blood cells, local vasoconstriction and directional reversals of red blood cell flow during noise exposure at both intensities. These results may represent the interaction of several mechanisms that participate in the control of blood flow in the cochlea during noise exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Homeostasis
  • Noise
  • Red blood cell velocity
  • Stria vascularis
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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