The tonic sympathetic input to the cochlear vasculature in guinea pig

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Vascular tone is an essential component in maintaining steady regional blood flow and dynamic responsiveness of a vascular bed. Sympathetic innervation can contribute to vascular tone. Although certain studies have reported evoked changes in cochlear blood flow (CBF) with activation of the sympathetic fibers to the cochlear vasculature, other studies have failed to show evidence of sympathetic contribution to CBF regulation when the cervical sympathetic fibers were unilaterally sectioned. We hypothesized that the bilateral 'sympathectomy of the stellate ganglia' would remove sufficient sympathetic input to the cochlea to yield a change in CBF resting level. To test this hypothesis a new technique was used to expose the stellate ganglia (SG) bilaterally and induce a chemical sympathectomy. We observed that unilateral SG blockade with 2 μl of 4 mM lidocaine hydrochloride on either side produced a 5-10% increase in CBF, which recovered to baseline during the following 2 min. A subsequent blockade of the contralateral SG produced a rapid 25-35% increase, which then recovered partially during the following 3-4 min, remaining 5-15% above the baseline over a 20 min measurement period. Superior cervical ganglion transection did not affect CBF. Our results provide evidence for the existence of a tonic sympathetic component in the control of vascular tone in guinea pig cochlea. This neural effect is derived bilaterally from SG. This result is consistent with previous anatomical studies showing the bilateral innervation of the cochlea by the SG sympathetic fibers and with previous physiological studies on the bilaterality of evoked changes in CBF due to electric stimulation of SG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-145
Number of pages5
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Cochlear blood flow
  • Guinea pig
  • Stellate ganglia
  • Sympathetic
  • Vascular tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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