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© Research
Publication : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

An unusually powerful mode of low-frequency sound interference due to defective hair bundles of the auditory outer hair cells

Scientific Fields
Diseases
Organisms
Applications
Technique

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - 11 Jun 2014

Kamiya K, Michel V, Giraudet F, Riederer B, Foucher I, Papal S, Perfettini I, Le Gal S, Verpy E, Xia W, Seidler U, Georgescu MM, Avan P, El-Amraoui A, Petit C

Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 24920589

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2014 Jun;111(25):9307-12

A detrimental perceptive consequence of damaged auditory sensory hair cells consists in a pronounced masking effect exerted by low-frequency sounds, thought to occur when auditory threshold elevation substantially exceeds 40 dB. Here, we identified the submembrane scaffold protein Nherf1 as a hair-bundle component of the differentiating outer hair cells (OHCs). Nherf1(-/-) mice displayed OHC hair-bundle shape anomalies in the mid and basal cochlea, normally tuned to mid- and high-frequency tones, and mild (22-35 dB) hearing-threshold elevations restricted to midhigh sound frequencies. This mild decrease in hearing sensitivity was, however, discordant with almost nonresponding OHCs at the cochlear base as assessed by distortion-product otoacoustic emissions and cochlear microphonic potentials. Moreover, unlike wild-type mice, responses of Nherf1(-/-) mice to high-frequency (20-40 kHz) test tones were not masked by tones of neighboring frequencies. Instead, efficient maskers were characterized by their frequencies up to two octaves below the probe-tone frequency, unusually low intensities up to 25 dB below probe-tone level, and growth-of-masker slope (2.2 dB/dB) reflecting their compressive amplification. Together, these properties do not fit the current acknowledged features of a hypersensitivity of the basal cochlea to lower frequencies, but rather suggest a previously unidentified mechanism. Low-frequency maskers, we propose, may interact within the unaffected cochlear apical region with midhigh frequency sounds propagated there via a mode possibly using the persistent contact of misshaped OHC hair bundles with the tectorial membrane. Our findings thus reveal a source of misleading interpretations of hearing thresholds and of hypervulnerability to low-frequency sound interference.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24920589