Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOAEs) are indicators of active processes in the inner ear and are found in all classes of land vertebrates. In the Australian bobtail lizard, earlier work showed that otoacoustic emissions are generated by an active motility process in the hair-cell bundle. This is likely to be driven by calcium-sensitive mechanisms implicated in other non-mammalian hair cell systems. If so, it should be fundamentally influenced by the extracellular calcium concentration. In in vitro studies, the rate of force generation in hair cell stereovilli is linked to the extracellular calcium concentration. In such preparations, low-calcium solutions, buffered by the calcium chelator BAPTA, were reported to change the frequency of hair cell bundle oscillations. In the present study, BAPTA was iontophoresed into the endolymph of the bobtail skink in vivo, and SOAEs were monitored. Application of BAPTA resulted in a prolonged downward shift in the frequency of individual SOAE spectral peaks. Recovery took more than 1 h, consistent with a slow clearance of BAPTA from endolymph. SOAE peak amplitudes were most often enhanced, suggesting there was no functional disruption of tip links. The direction and degree of frequency shifts were consistent with in vitroand in vivo data showing the effects of changing calcium concentrations in the endolymph directly.

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