Faithful information transfer at the hair cell afferent synapse requires synaptic transmission to be both reliable and temporally precise. The release of neurotransmitter must exhibit both rapid on and off kinetics to accurately follow acoustic stimuli with a periodicity of 1 ms or less. To ensure such remarkable temporal fidelity, the cochlear hair cell afferent synapse undoubtedly relies on unique cellular and molecular specializations. To study effects of different doses of gentamicin on the changes of synaptic ribbons of cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) in mice, the availability of genetic information, transgenic and knock-out animals make the C57BL/6J mouse a primary model in biomedical research. Aminoglycoside ototoxicity, however, has rarely been studied in mature mice because they are considered highly resistant to the drugs. This study presents models for gentamicin ototoxicity in adult C57BL/6J mouse strains. Five-week-old mice were injected intraperitoneally once daily with 50-300 mg gentamicin base/kg body weight for 7 days. Higher doses of gentamicin appear to be associated with earlier hearing damage in C57BL/6J mice, although not necessarily with more severe damage. At 200 mg/kg, gentamicin appears to induce significant hearing damage while not significantly affect the animal's general condition. Therefore, 200 mg/kg may be an ideal dose for ototoxicity modeling in C57BL/6J mice using gentamicin. In the early period of different dose of gentamicin effect, when the number of hair cells had not changed, the number changes of IHC ribbon synapses had taken place. Through the number of ribbon synapses changing, IHCs increased or decreased connections with spiral ganglion nerves (SGNs). The ribbon synapses played a compensatory role for gentamicin ototoxicity, while this effect was not sufficient to maintain the normal threshold of hearing.
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