Cellular correlates of age-related endocochlear potential reduction in a mouse model

Kevin K. Ohlemiller, Jaclynn M. Lett, Patricia M. Gagnon

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60 Scopus citations


Age-related degeneration of cochlear stria vascularis and resulting reduction in the endocochlear potential (EP) are the hallmark features of strial presbycusis, one of the major forms of presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss (ARHL) (Schuknecht, H.F., 1964. Further observations on the pathology of presbycusis. Archives of Otolaryngology 80, 369-382; Schuknecht, H.F., 1993. Pathology of the Ear. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia; Schuknecht, H.F., Gacek, M.R., 1993. Cochlear pathology in presbycusis. Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology 102, 1-16). It is unclear whether there are multiple forms of strial ARHL having different sequences of degenerative events and different risk factors. Human temporal bone studies suggest that the initial pathology usually affects strial marginal cells, then spreads to other strial cell types. While inheritance studies support a moderate genetic influence, no contributing genes have been identified. Establishment of mouse models of strial ARHL may promote the identification of underlying genes and gene/environment interactions. We have found that BALB/cJ mice show significant EP reduction by 19 months of age. The reduction only occurs in a subset of animals. To identify key anatomical correlates of the EP reduction, we compared several cochlear lateral wall metrics in BALBs with those in C57BL/6J (B6) mice, which show little EP reduction for ages up to 26 months. Among the measures obtained, marginal cell density and spiral ligament thickness were the best predictors of both the EP decline in BALBs, and EP stability in B6. Our results indicate that the sequence of strial degeneration in BALBs is like that suggested for humans. Additional strain comparisons we have performed suggest that genes governing strial melanin production do not play a role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-26
Number of pages17
JournalHearing research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Basal cells
  • Cochlea
  • Fibrocytes
  • Intermediate cells
  • Marginal cells
  • Presbycusis
  • Spiral ligament
  • Stria vascularis


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