The Effect of Cytoplasmic Turgor Pressure on the Static and Dynamic Mechanical Properties of Outer Hair Cells

  • W. E. Brownell
  • W. E. Shehata
Part of the Lecture Notes in Biomathematics book series (LNBM, volume 87)


The force generating ability of the outer hair cell (Brownell, et al. 1985) has received a great deal of attention. The effect of the force generator on the movements of the cell, both in vitro and in vivo, is determined by the mechanics of the cell’s microstructure. Outer hair cells provide a pivotal mechanical link between the basilar membrane and the reticular lamina, so that their active and passive mechanical properties should be incorporated when describing cochlear partition movement. We present evidence that the structural features of the outer hair cell are maintained by an interaction between tensile elements associated with the cytoplasmic membrane and the turgor pressure of the cell’s cytoplasm. This interaction describes what has been called a hydraulic skeleton (Wainwright, 1970). Maintenance of the turgor pressure is necessary for the hydraulic communication of the pressure gradients responsible for the rapid electro motile response. Aspirin appears to exert its effect on otoacoustic emissions and hearing by weakening the hydraulic skeleton and thereby diminishing the rapid electromotile response.


Hair Cell Outer Hair Cell Basilar Membrane Turgor Pressure Otoacoustic Emission 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. E. Brownell
    • 1
  • W. E. Shehata
    • 1
  1. 1.The Departments of Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery and Neuroscience and The Center for Hearing SciencesThe Johns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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