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Original Article
January 18, 2010

Development of Cytomegalovirus-Mediated Sensorineural Hearing Loss in a Guinea Pig Model

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Division of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (Drs Park and Gifford and Mss Dahlstrom and Li), Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (Mr Chase), Division of Associated Regional and University Pathologists (Dr McGill), and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine (Dr Alder), School of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; and Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research, University of Minnesota, Rochester (Dr Schleiss).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010;136(1):48-53. doi:10.1001/archoto.2009.210

Objective  To develop an animal model for cytomegalovirus (CMV)–induced sensorineural hearing loss.

Design  Guinea pig model.

Setting  University of Utah otolaryngology research labs.

Participants  Thirty-one Hartley guinea pig pups were divided into 4 groups. Group 1 pups were delivered from pregnant dams inoculated with 1 × 105 plaque-forming units (PFU) of guinea pig CMV (gpCMV). Group 2 and group 3 pups were delivered from pregnant dams inoculated with higher doses of 2 and 4 × 105 PFU of gpCMV, respectively. Group 4 pups, the control group, were delivered from uninoculated dams.

Main Outcome Measures  All groups underwent weekly auditory brainstem response studies. Six weeks after delivery, the brain, cochlea, salivary glands, lungs, liver, and kidneys were harvested. All tissue except the cochlea was analyzed for histologic evidence of the virus. All tissue underwent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect gpCMV.

Results  Seven of the 19 (37%) inoculated pups developed a 30-dB hearing loss; none of the animals in the control group had a worse click threshold than 20 dB. Group 1 pups demonstrated statistically significant asymmetric hearing loss. All 3 inoculated groups showed evidence of progressive hearing loss over time. The control group did not demonstrate evidence of progressive threshold worsening. The PCR testing detected gpCMV in the cochleas of group 2 and group 3 animals.

Conclusions  We have successfully demonstrated elevated auditory brainstem response click thresholds with characteristics of progressive and asymmetric loss that have been reported in clinical reports of congenital CMV infection. We also detected gpCMV via PCR testing in the cochleas of inoculated pups.