Degenerate brainstem circuitry after combined physiochemical exposure to jet fuel and noise

O’neil W. Guthrie, Brian A. Wong, Shawn M. McInturf, David R. Mattie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Degenerate neural circuits exhibit “different” circuit properties yet produce similar circuit outcomes (many-to-one) which ensures circuit robustness and complexity. However, neuropathies may hijack degeneracy to yield robust and complex pathological circuits. The aim of the current study was to test the hypothesis that physiochemical exposure to combined jet fuel and noise might induce degeneracy in the brainstem. The auditory brainstem of pigmented rats was used as a model system. The animals were randomized into the following experimental groups: Fuel+Noise, fuel-only, noise-only, and control. Ascending volume conductance from various auditory brainstem regions were evaluated simultaneously with peripheral nervous system (PNS) input to brainstem circuitry. Data demonstrated normal PNS inputs for all groups. However, the Fuel+Noise exposure group produced different caudal brainstem circuit properties while rostral brainstem circuitry initiated outputs that were similar to that of control. This degenerative effect was specific to Fuel+Noise exposure, since neither noise-alone or fuel-alone produced the same result. Degeneracy in the auditory brainstem is consistent with perceptual abnormalities, such as poor speech discrimination (hear but not understand), tinnitus (ringing in the ear), hyperacusis (hypersensitivity to even low-level sound), and loudness intolerance. Therefore, a potential consequence of Fuel+Noise exposure among military and civilian populations may be evidenced as increased rates of super-threshold auditory perceptual abnormalities. This is particularly important because to date, the ototoxic profile of Fuel+Noise exposure has remained unresolved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A: Current Issues
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022


  • Ototoxicity
  • audiology
  • central auditory processing
  • military
  • otology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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