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Mechanisms of Alterations in the Microcirculation of the Cochlea



ABSTRACT: Labyrinthine function is tightly coupled to proper homeostasis. This includes appropriate blood flow that is under strict autoregulatory control. Perturbations in labyrinthine microcirculation can lead to significant cochlear and vestibular dysfunction. The etiology of many otologic disorders, including sudden sensorineural hearing loss, presbyacusis, noise-induced hearing loss, and certain vestibulopathies, are suspected of being related to alterations in blood flow. Some of the mechanisms responsible for hypoperfusion and possibly ischemia, within the cochlea, are addressed, with emphasis on the possibility that both noise and age contribute to localized low blood-flow states and stasis. This reduction in blood supply to the cochlea is likely, in part, responsible for reduced auditory sensitivity associated with chronic noise exposure and aging.