Stellate ganglion drives sympathetic regulation of cochlear blood flow

Esa A. Laurikainen, David Kim, Anne Didier, Tianying Ren, Josef M. Miller, Wayne S. Quirk, Alfred L. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The functional properties of the sympathetic fibers innervating the cochlea are not well understood. Adrenergic fibers supplying lateral wall structures of the cochlea have been observed terminating on radiating arterioles and collecting venules. Adrenergic fibers also terminate as 'free' endings in the spiral osseous lamina. Stimulation or transection of sympathetic fibers originating from superior cervical chain and supplying the cochlea have yielded mixed results concerning many aspects of cochlea physiology. In order to clarify the origin of sympathetic fibers and their role in control of cochlear blood flow (CBF), we examined the effect of electrical stimulation of the stellate ganglion (ESS) and transection of postganglionic fibers from the stellate on CBF measured by laser Doppler flowmetry and on systemic blood pressure (BP) in the guinea pig. ESS produced a 20-35% increase in BP and 10-15% decrease in CBF. The decrease in CBF presumably reflects the net result of increased perfusion pressure, local autoregulatory mechanisms, and a direct sympathetic-induced vasoconstriction. Section of the immediate postganglionic sympathetic trunk had little or no effect on the ESS-related change in BP; however, it eliminated the CBF reduction. Intravenously infused β1-blocker diminished the BP increase due to ESS, while the electrically-evoked reduction in CBF remained. Local application of an α-blocker on the round window blocker ESS evoked CBF reductions without altering the BP increase. These data confirm the functional role of sympathetic projections from the stellate ganglion in CBF regulation in guinea pig. Taken together with previous studies showing that the superior cervical ganglion mediates a sympathetic input into inner ear vasculature in guinea pig, our results indicate the action of two or more autonomic sympathetic fiber systems in the control of CBF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-204
Number of pages6
JournalHearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha-receptor
  • Cochlear blood flow
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Guinea pig
  • Stellate ganglion
  • Sympathetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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