Measurements and a model of the outer hair cell hydraulic conductivity

J. Tilak Ratnanather, Man Zhi, William E. Brownell, Aleksander S. Popel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The hydraulic conductivity of the cochlear outer hair cell (OHC) is central to the maintenance of the positive intracellular pressure necessary for its function as the cochlear amplifier. A mathematical model of osmotic water transport across the OHC membrane is formulated. The model relates the OHC hydraulic conductivity, L(p), to the rate of volume change in response to osmotic stimuli. L(p) is evaluated from osmotic experiments in which isolated OHCs are exposed to an hypotonic solution. The rate of volume increase in response to the hypotonic challenge was determined by a morphometric analysis of video images of cells. L(p) was found to be about 10-14 m s-1 Pa-1 or equivalently, P(f) ~ 10-4 cm s-1. This is on the low side of values reported for different lipid bilayers and is 2 orders of magnitude lower than the hydraulic conductivity of red blood cells. The relation of the low OHC hydraulic conductivity to the composition and morphology of its membranes is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-40
Number of pages8
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 1996


  • Hydraulic skeleton
  • Mathematical model
  • Osmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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