The effects of transient cochlear ischemia on spiral ganglion cells (SGCs) were studied in Mongolian gerbils. Ischemic insult was induced by occluding the bilateral vertebral arteries of gerbils for 15 min. Seven days after ischemia, the percentage of SGCs decreased to 67.5% from the preischemic baseline in the basal turn. Evaluation with immunohistochemical staining showed TUNEL-positive reactions in the SGCs with fragmented nuclei. In addition, we investigated the protective effects of ginsenoside Rb1 (gRb1) against ischemic injury to SGCs. Seven days after ischemia, the auditory brainstem response threshold shift was significantly reduced and the percentage of SGCs decreased to 90.2% from the preischemic baseline in the basal turn in the gRb1-treated group. These findings suggest that gRb1 prevented hearing loss caused by ischemic injury to SGCs in Mongolian gerbils.
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