Scanning Microscopy


Pregnant CBA/CBA mice were exposed to 0.5, 1 and 2 Grey (Gy), (1 Gy = 100 rad) in single doses with whole body gamma-irradiation on the 12th, 13th and 16th gestational days, respectively. The animals were tested at an age of one month for vestibular and cochlear function. Thereafter the inner ears were analyzed with scanning electron microscopy. A morphological analysis with cytocochleograms was performed.

Morphological changes in the vestibular part showed gross malformations in the cristae ampullares. Hair cells of type I seemed to be more severely changed than hair cells type II. The macula utriculi also showed malformations of the otoconia. All these changes were more pronounced when the irradiation was given early during pregnancy and with the highest doses used, except the otoconia which were more injured when irradiated day 16 of gestation. No disturbances of the equilibrium reflexes were noted.

In the cochlea a dose-dependent, time-related damage pattern was demonstrated with pathological changes of outer (OHC) and inner (IHC) hair cells. When tested electrophysiologically for auditory function with auditory brainstem recordings (ABR), elevated thresholds were revealed different in shape depending on when during pregnancy irradiation took place.

A good correlation existed between the morphological changes as seen in the cytocochleograms and the functional changes documented with the ABR.

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