Using guinea pigs and chinchillas as experimental animals, modes and patterns of sensory cell damage by acoustic hyperstimulation and kanamycin intoxication were compared. In general, outer hair cells were more vulnerable to both acoustic trauma and ototoxicity (particularly in the basal turn) than inner hair cells. However, in kanamycin ototoxicity, the inner hair cells were more vulnerable in the apical coil. Nerve endings and nerve fibers generally were resistant to both acoustic trauma and kanamycin intoxication, and their degeneration appears to be secondary to the sensory cell degeneration. A large number of unmyelinated nerve fibers were seen in both the organ of Corti and the osseous spiral lamina even three months after the organ of Corti had been completely degenerated by ototoxicity. The total number of unmyelinated and myelinated nerve fibers in the osseous spiral lamina far exceeded the scanty surviving ganglion cells in Rosenthal's canal, indicating the possibility of regeneration of these fibers following kanamycin intoxication. The remaining few ganglion cells were mainly type II or type III cells, and a majority of the type I ganglion cells appeared to be degenerated. Signs of strial damage were observed in both acoustic trauma and ototoxicity, but their pattern did not correlate well with that of sensory cell degeneration.
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