Exposure to Chronic Noise Reduces the Volume of Hippocampal Subregions in Rats

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Yazd University of Medical Sciences, Yazd, Iran

2 Departments of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine Isfahan, University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


The hippocampal circuit integrity is crucial for learning and memory. Despite the existing reports on hippocampal–dependent memory impairment due to noise stress, there are only a few studies on the effect of noise stress on anatomical structure of hippocampus. The present study is aimed to investigate the likely effects of chronic noise exposure on the volume of rat hippocampus.
Materials and Methods
Two-month male Wistar rats were randomly divided into three groups (n=10 in each group). In the control group rats were maintained under standard laboratory conditions (150 days). In the noise-exposed group: Rats were exposed to 40 dB unmodulated sinosoidal noise with a frequency of 1100 Hz for 20 mins, three times per day for 90 days. The recovery group rats were exposed to noise for 90 days and allowed to survive without further treatment until the day of sacrifice (180th day). The right hemispheres were selected for stereological study. Twenty five μm thick sections were cut along the entire extent of the hippocampus. Using systematic uniformly random sampling, one section from every twenty sections was analyzed. Volume estimation was performed using Cavalieri principle.
Statistical analysis revealed that noise stress induces a significant reduction in volume of all layers of hippocampal subdivisions, except CA1 hippocampal field. In addition, we found that rats which were allowed to recover from noise displayed larger volume ofdentate gyrus and CA3 hippocampal field in comparison to noise-exposed rats.
Reduced volume of hippocampal layers most probably reflects structural alterations in the neurites of related neurons. These results provide a neuroanatomical basis that may be relevant to the reported memory disturbances in human and animals following noise stress.


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