Effects of Chronic Electrical Stimulation on Spiral Ganglion Neuron Survival and Size in Deafened Kittens



We have studied spiral ganglion cell (SGC) survival and soma size in neonatally pharmacologically deafened kittens. They were implanted with a four-electrode array in the left cochlea at 100 to 180 or more days of age. Eight animals were chronically stimulated approximately 1000 hours over approximately 60 days with charge-balanced, biphasic current pulses; three were unstimulated controls. Using three-dimensional computer-aided reconstruction of the cochlea, the SGC position and cross-sectional area were stored. SGC position was mapped to the organ of Corti by perpendicular projections, starting from the basal end. The basal region of the cochlea was divided into three 4-mm segments. SGC survival (number per 0.1 mm of the length of the organ of Corti) and soma size for stimulated cochleae were compared statistically with implanted but unstimulated cochleae. There was no evidence of an effect of electrical stimulation on SGC survival under this protocol and with this duration. On the other hand, the cell size on the stimulated side was significantly larger than the control side in the middle segment (4 to 8 mm from the basal end). SGCs undergo a reduction in size after prolonged auditory deprivation; however, these changes may be partially moderated after chronic intracochlear electrical stimulation.