Auditory metabolomics, an approach to identify acute molecular effects of noise trauma

Sci Rep. 2019 Jun 25;9(1):9273. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-45385-8.


Animal-based studies have provided important insights into the structural and functional consequences of noise exposure on the cochlea. Yet, less is known about the molecular mechanisms by which noise induces cochlear damage, particularly at relatively low exposure levels. While there is ample evidence that noise exposure leads to changes in inner ear metabolism, the specific effects of noise exposure on the cochlear metabolome are poorly understood. In this study we applied liquid chromatography-coupled tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS)-based metabolomics to analyze the effects of noise on the mouse inner ear. Mice were exposed to noise that induces temporary threshold shifts, synaptopathy and permanent hidden hearing loss. Inner ears were harvested immediately after exposure and analyzed by targeted metabolomics for the relative abundance of 220 metabolites across the major metabolic pathways in central carbon metabolism. We identified 40 metabolites differentially affected by noise. Our approach detected novel noise-modulated metabolites and pathways, as well as some already linked to noise exposure or cochlear function such as neurotransmission and oxidative stress. Furthermore, it showed that metabolic effects of noise on the inner ear depend on the intensity and duration of exposure. Collectively, our results illustrate that metabolomics provides a powerful approach for the characterization of inner ear metabolites affected by auditory trauma. This type of information could lead to the identification of drug targets and novel therapies for noise-induced hearing loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Ear, Inner / metabolism*
  • Ear, Inner / pathology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / metabolism*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / pathology
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / metabolism*
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / pathology
  • Metabolome*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry