The most common form of sensory disability is age-related hearing loss (ARHL), also referred to as presbycusis. ARHL is a complex disorder with a mixture of genetic and environmental components, a combination that leads to a progressive decline in hearing function with increased age. In the last 15 years, there has been a vast increase in our knowledge of the genes that underlie congenital deafness and the critical components of hearing. In contrast, knowledge of the pathological processes involved in ARHL remains very limited. The mouse has proved an essential tool in the identification of early-onset deafness genes and in revealing the basic mechanisms of hearing. As focus is now turning toward elucidating the most common form of hearing loss, ARHL, the mouse will again play a fundamental role in this research. Here, we review the need for an animal model and discuss the suitability of the mouse as an ARHL model. Finally, we outline the ways in which hearing researchers are utilising the mouse in the investigation of ARHL and provide perspectives on the need for these data to be integrated with the results of human genetic studies.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.