Trans-tympanic injection into the middle ear has long been the standard for local delivery of compounds in experimental studies. Here we demonstrate the advantages of the novel method of intra-tympanic injection through the otic bone for the delivery of compounds or siRNA into the adult mouse cochlea. First, a fluorescently-conjugated scrambled siRNA probe was applied via intra-tympanic injection into the middle ear cavity and was detected in sensory hair cells and nerve fibers as early as 6 h after the injection. The fluorescent probe was also detected in other cells of the organ of Corti, the lateral wall, and in spiral ganglion cells 48 h after the injection. Furthermore, intra-tympanic delivery of Nox3 siRNA successfully reduced immunofluorescence associated with Nox3 in outer hair cells 72 h after injection by 20%. Drug or siRNA delivery via intra-tympanic injection does not compromise the tympanic membrane or interfere with noise-induced hearing loss, while trans-tympanic injections significantly altered the cochlear response to noise exposure. In summary, intra-tympanic injection through the otic bone into the middle ear cavity provides a promising approach for delivery of compounds or siRNA to cochlear hair cells of adult mice, relevant for the study of mechanisms underlying inner ear insults and, specifically, noise-induced hearing loss.
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