Comparison of cochlear morphology and apoptosis in mouse models of presbycusis

Clin Exp Otorhinolaryngol. 2010 Sep;3(3):126-35. doi: 10.3342/ceo.2010.3.3.126. Epub 2010 Sep 30.


Objectives: Morphological studies on presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, have been performed in several different strains of mice that demonstrate hearing loss with auditory pathology. The C57BL/6 (C57) mouse is a known model of early onset presbycusis, while the CBA mouse is characterized by relatively late onset hearing loss. We performed this study to further understand how early onset hearing loss is related with the aging process of the cochlea.

Methods: We compared C57 cochlear pathology and its accompanying apoptotic processes to those in CBA mice. Hearing thresholds and outer hair cell functions have been evaluated by auditory brainstem response (ABR) recordings and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE).

Results: ABR recordings and DPOAE studies demonstrated high frequency hearing loss in C57 mice at P3mo of age. Cochlear morphologic studies of P1mo C57 and CBA mice did not show differences in the organ of Corti, spiral ganglion, or stria vascularis. However, from P3mo and onwards, a predominant early outer hair cell degeneration at the basal turn of the cochlea in C57 mice without definitive degeneration of spiral ganglion cells and stria vascularis/spiral ligament, compared with CBA mice, was observed. Additionally, apoptotic processes in the C57 mice also demonstrated an earlier progression.

Conclusion: These data suggest that the C57 mouse could be an excellent animal model for early onset 'sensory' presbycusis in their young age until P6mo. Further studies to investigate the intrinsic or extrinsic etiologic factors that lead to the early degeneration of organ of Corti, especially in the high frequency region, in C57 mice may provide a possible pathological mechanism of early onset hearing loss.

Keywords: Aging; Apoptosis; Cochlea; Hearing; Morphology.