The role of the otoliths in mammals in the normal angular vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) was characterized in an accompanying study based on the Otopetrin1 (Otop1) mouse, which lacks functioning otoliths because of failure to develop otoconia but seems to have otherwise normal peripheral anatomy and neural circuitry. That study showed that otoliths do not contribute to the normal horizontal (rotation about Earth-vertical axis parallel to dorso-ventral axis) and vertical (rotation about Earth-vertical axis parallel to interaural axis) angular VOR but do affect gravity context-specific VOR adaptation. By using these animals, we sought to determine whether the otoliths play a role in the angular VOR after unilateral labyrinthectomy when the total canal signal is reduced. In five Otop1 mice and five control littermates we measured horizontal and vertical left-eardown and right-ear-down sinusoidal VOR (0.2-10 Hz, 20-100°/s) during the early (3-5 days) and plateau (28-32 days) phases of compensation after unilateral labyrinthectomy and compared these measurements with baseline preoperative responses from the accompanying study. From similar baselines, acute gain loss was ~25% less in control mice, and chronic gain recovery was ~40% more in control mice. The acute data suggest that the otoliths contribute to the angular VOR when there is a loss of canal function. The chronic data suggest that a unilateral otolith signal can significantly improve angular VOR compensation. These data have implications for vestibular rehabilitation of patients with both canal and otolith loss and the development of vestibular implants, which currently only mimic the canals on one side. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study examining the role of the otoliths (defined here as the utricle and saccule) on the acute and chronic angular vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) after unilateral labyrinthectomy in an animal model in which the otoliths are reliably inactivated and the semicircular canals preserved. This study shows that the otolith signal is used to augment the acute angular VOR and help boost VOR compensation after peripheral injury.
- Angular vestibuloocular reflex
- Otoconia-deficient mice
- Otolith contribution to angular vestibuloocular reflex
- Otop1 mouse model
- Vestibuloocular reflex compensation
ASJC Scopus subject areas