Effects of hypoxia on cochlear blood flow in mice evaluated using Doppler optical microangiography

Reduced cochlear blood flow (CoBF) is a main contributor to hearing loss. Studying CoBF has remained a challenge due to the lack of available tools. Doppler optical microangiography (DOMAG), a method to quantify single-vessel absolute blood flow, and laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF), a method for measuring the relative blood flow within a large volume of tissue, were used for determining the changes in CoBF due to systemic hypoxia in mice. DOMAG determined the change in blood flow in the apical turn (AT) with single-vessel resolution, while LDF averaged the change in the blood flow within a large volume of the cochlea (hemisphere with ∼1 to 1.5 mm radius). Hypoxia was induced by decreasing the concentration of oxygen-inspired gas, so that the oxygen saturation was reduced from >95% to ∼80% . DOMAG determined that during hypoxia the blood flow in two areas of the AT near and far from the helicotrema were increased and decreased, respectively. The LDF detected a decrease in blood flow within a larger volume of the cochlea (several turns averaged together). Therefore, the use of DOMAG as a tool for studying cochlear blood flow due to its ability to determine absolute flow values with single-vessel resolution was proposed.