A gerbil model of sloping sensorineural hearing loss

Thomas A. Suberman, Adam P. Campbell, Oliver F. Adunka, Craig A. Buchman, Joseph P. Roche, Douglas C. Fitzpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: The goal of the overall project is to develop knowledge about cochlear physiology during cochlear implantation and develop procedures for assessing its status during hearing preservation surgery. As a step toward this goal, for this study, we established an animal model of sloping high frequency sensorineural hearing loss that mimics the hearing condition of candidates for combined electric-acoustic stimulation. Methods: Mongolian gerbils were exposed to band-pass noise using various cutoff frequencies, intensities, exposure times, and survival times. Hearing loss was assessed in far-field recording using preexposure and postexposure auditory brainstem responses (ABRs), and in acute, near-field recordings of the cochlear microphonic and compound action potential from an electrode on the round window. Anatomic loss of hair cells was assessed from dissections. Results: Postexposure ABRs and near-field recordings from the round window revealed sensorineural hearing loss that varied with the overall noise exposure. Loss of hair cells ranged from relatively sparse to large areas of complete absence depending on the noise exposure. Cases with high intensity (120 dB SPL) and long exposure times (3 h) showed sloping patterns of hearing loss with profound high-frequency loss and mild-to-moderate low-frequency loss. These cases showed complete loss of hair cells in the basal cochlea and preserved hair cells in the apical cochlea. The frequencies comprising the slope in the ABRs and the location of the transition zone between preserved and lost hair cells varied according to the cutoff frequency used. Conclusion: We were able to reliably induce sensorineural hearing loss and loss of hair cells in the gerbil that is comparable to candidates for hearing preservation surgery. This model can be used to evaluate the effects of electrode introduction in a system with a hearing condition similar to that in cases of hearing preservation operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Cochlear implant
  • Electricacoustic stimulation
  • Hearing preservation
  • Hybrid stimulation


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