Age-related hearing loss in rhesus monkeys is correlated with cochlear histopathologies

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55092. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055092. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Audiometric hearing deficits are a common symptom of age-related hearing loss (ARHL), as are specific histopathological changes in the cochlea; however, very little data have been collected in non-human primates. To examine this relationship further, we collected auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) from rhesus monkeys spanning in age from 10 to 35 years old, and examined four different morphological features of their cochleae. We found significant correlations between ABR thresholds and the loss of outer hair cells and spiral ganglion cells, but not with the loss of inner hair cells or a reduced thickness of the stria vascularis. The strongest correlation with ABR thresholds was the number of different pathologies present. These findings show that while aged rhesus monkeys experience audiometric hearing deficits similar to that seen in humans, they are not correlated with a single peripheral deficit, but instead with a number of different underlying cochlear histopathologies, indicating that similar histopathologies may exist in geriatric humans as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Audiometry
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Cochlea / pathology*
  • Cochlea / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem
  • Female
  • Hair Cells, Auditory, Outer / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Microscopy
  • Presbycusis / pathology*
  • Presbycusis / physiopathology
  • Spiral Ganglion / pathology*
  • Spiral Ganglion / physiopathology