Extracellular Biomarkers of Inner Ear Disease and Their Potential for Point-of-Care Diagnostics

Adv Sci (Weinh). 2022 Mar;9(9):e2104033. doi: 10.1002/advs.202104033. Epub 2021 Dec 26.


Rapid diagnostic testing has become a mainstay of patient care, using easily obtained samples such as blood or urine to facilitate sample analysis at the point-of-care. These tests rely on the detection of disease or organ-specific biomarkers that have been well characterized for a particular disorder. Currently, there is no rapid diagnostic test for hearing loss, which is one of the most prevalent sensory disorders in the world. In this review, potential biomarkers for inner ear-related disorders, their detection, and quantification in bodily fluids are described. The authors discuss lesion-specific changes in cell-free deoxyribonucleic acids (DNAs), micro-ribonucleic acids (microRNAs), proteins, and metabolites, in addition to recent biosensor advances that may facilitate rapid and precise detection of these molecules. Ultimately, these biomarkers may be used to provide accurate diagnostics regarding the site of damage in the inner ear, providing practical information for individualized therapy and assessment of treatment efficacy in the future.

Keywords: biomarkers; cochlea; diagnosis; hair cells; hearing; inner ear; point-of-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Ear, Inner*
  • Hearing Loss* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Labyrinth Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Point-of-Care Testing*


  • Biomarkers