Direct evidence of trigeminal innervation of the cochlear blood vessels

Z. Vass, S. E. Shore, A. L. Nuttall, J. M. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


This paper provides the first detailed description of the trigeminal innervation of the inner ear vasculature. This system provides a newly discovered neural substrate for rapid vasodilatatory responses of the inner ear to high levels of activity and sensory input. Moreover, this discovery may provide an alternative mechanism for a set of clinical disturbances (imbalance, hearing loss, tinnitus and headache) for which a central neural basis has been speculated. Iomophoretic injections of biocytin were made via a glass microelectrode into the trigeminal ganglion in guinea-pigs. Tissue for histological sections was obtained 24 h later. Labeled fibers from the injection site were observed as bundles around the ipsilateral spiral modiolar blood vessels, as individual labeled fibers in the interscala septae, and in the ipsilateral stria vascularis. The dark cell region of the cristae ampullaris in the vestibular labyrinth was also intensively labeled. No labeled fibers were observed in the neuroepithelium of the cristae ampullaris or the semicircular canals. These results confirm and localize an earlier indirect observation of the trigeminal ganglion projection to the cochlea. This innervation may play a role in normal vascular tone and in some inner ear disturbances, e.g., sudden hearing loss may reflect an abnormal activity of trigeminal ganglion projections to the cochlear blood vessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-567
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 11 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Guinea-pig
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Herpes zoster
  • Sensory neuron
  • Vestibular labyrinth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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