The mechanism and site of action of lidocaine hydrochloride in guinea pig inner ear

Esa Laurikainen, Xi Lin, Alfred L. Nuttall, David F. Dolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Lidocaine was applied to the round window (RW) in order to localize its site of action in the cochlea. Cochlear microphonic (CM), summating potential (SP), and compound action potential (CAP) input/output functions were measured to a 16 kHz tone burst to assess the functional changes of the cochlea. In separate experiments, the effect of lidocaine on the whole cell current of isolated outer hair cells (OHC) was studied. A dose of 2 μl of 40 mM lidocaine in saline solution, when applied to the RW, caused a small change in all measured variables, indicating a passage of the drug through the RW membrane to sites of action. However, 160 mM of lidocaine further decreased CM, SP, and CAP by a total of 40%, from the control. A partial recovery occurred for CM during the 30 min follow-up period. CAP and SP continued to decline. In isolated OHCs, lidocaine decreased the whole cell current in a dose-dependent fashion. The K(D) for lidocaine effect on OHCs was 7 mM. Our in vivo results indicate that lidocaine affects OHCs and reduces CM, causing a subsequent reduction in SP and CAP. The increased effect of lidocaine on CAP and SP, while CM is recovering, suggests an additional specific effect of lidocaine on the cochlear nerve and/or on inner hair cells. Considering that lidocaine alters OHC current (in isolated hair cells) and that lidocaine does not affect endocochlear potential [Laurikainen et al, Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh) 1991; 112: 800-9], the observed CM changes are most likely due to an in vivo effect on OHCs. Thus, the early effect of lidocaine on the cochlea appears to be due to a significant change in organ of Corti function, rather than to direct anesthesia of the cochlear nerve. Later, an independent effect of the drug may occur on neural tissues in the inner ear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-528
Number of pages6
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlea
  • Cochlear microphonic
  • Isolated outer hair cell
  • Organ of Corti
  • Whole cell current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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