The degree to which radial exchange between scala tympani (ST) and scala vestibuli (SV) can occur has not previously been quantified. We have measured the amount of cross-communication in the third turn of the guinea pig cochlea using an ionic tracer, trimethylphenylammonium (TMPA). TMPA was perfused through one scala while TMPA concentrations were measured simultaneously in the perfused and non-perfused scalae. On the basis of the time course of TMPA increase recorded in the non-perfused scala, we were able to calculate rate constants for cross-leak and clearance. Cross-leak in the third turn occurred remarkably rapidly with a rate constant from ST to SV of 0.049 min -1 and from SV to ST of 0.031 min-1. These correspond to transfer half times of 14.2 and 22.4 min respectively. This result demonstrates that ST and SV in the third turn cannot be regarded as independent compartments.
- Ion-selective electrodes
- Spiral ligament