Chronic cochlear implantation with and without electric stimulation in a mouse model induces robust cochlear influx of CX3CR1+/GFP macrophages

Alexander D. Claussen, René Vielman Quevedo, Jonathon R. Kirk, Timon Higgins, Brian Mostaert, Muhammad Taifur Rahman, Jacob Oleson, Reyna Hernandez, Keiko Hirose, Marlan R. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Cochlear implantation is an effective auditory rehabilitation strategy for those with profound hearing loss, including those with residual low frequency hearing through use of hybrid cochlear implantation techniques. Post-mortem studies demonstrate the nearly ubiquitous presence of intracochlear fibrosis and neo-ossification following cochlear implantation. Current evidence suggests post-implantation intracochlear fibrosis is associated with delayed loss of residual acoustic hearing in hybrid cochlear implant (CI) recipients and may also negatively influence outcomes in traditional CI recipients. This study examined the contributions of surgical trauma, foreign body response and electric stimulation to intracochlear fibrosis and the innate immune response to cochlear implantation and the hierarchy of these contributions. Methods: Normal hearing CX3CR1+/GFP mice underwent either round window opening (sham), acute CI insertion or chronic CI insertion with no, low- or high-level electric stimulation. Electric stimulation levels were based on neural response telemetry (NRT), beginning post-operative day 7 for 5 h per day. Subjects (n=3 per timepoint) were sacrificed at 4 h, 1,4,7,8,11,14 and 21 days. An unoperated group (n=3) served as controls. Cochleae were harvested at each time-point and prepared for immunohistochemistry with confocal imaging. The images were analyzed to obtain CX3CR1+ macrophage cell number and density in the lateral wall (LW), scala tympani (ST) and Rosenthal's canal (RC). Results: A ST peri-implant cellular infiltrate and fibrosis occurred exclusively in the chronically implanted groups starting on day 7 with a concurrent infiltration of CX3CR1+ macrophages not seen in the other groups. CX3CR1+ macrophage infiltration was seen in the LW and RC in all experimental groups within the first week, being most prominent in the 3 chronically implanted groups during the second and third week. Conclusions: The cochlear immune response was most prominent in the presence of chronic cochlear implantation, regardless of electric stimulation level. Further, the development of intracochlear ST fibrosis was dependent on the presence of the indwelling CI foreign body. An innate immune response was evoked by surgical trauma alone (sham and acute CI groups) to a lesser degree. These data suggest that cochlear inflammation and intrascalar fibrosis after cochlear implantation are largely dependent on the presence of a chronic indwelling foreign body and are not critically dependent on electrical stimulation. Also, these data support a role for surgical trauma in inciting the initial innate immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108510
JournalHearing research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Cochlear implantation
  • Cochlear inflammation
  • Cochlear macrophages
  • Electro-acoustic stimulation
  • Foreign body response
  • Hearing preservation


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