Divergent aging characteristics in CBA/J and CBA/CaJ mouse cochleae

Kevin K. Ohlemiller, Ashley R. Dahl, Patricia M. Gagnon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Two inbred mouse strains, CBA/J and CBA/CaJ, have been used nearly interchangeably as 'good hearing' standards for research in hearing and deafness. We recently reported, however, that these two strains diverge after 1 year of age, such that CBA/CaJ mice show more rapid elevation of compound action potential (CAP) thresholds at high frequencies (Ohlemiller, Brain Res. 1277: 70-83, 2009). One contributor is progressive decline in endocochlear potential (EP) that appears only in CBA/CaJ. Here, we explore the cellular bases of threshold and EP disparities in old CBA/J and CBA/CaJ mice. Among the major findings, both strains exhibit a characteristic age (̃18 months in CBA/J and 24 months in CBA/CaJ) when females overtake males in sensitivity decline. Strain differences in progression of hearing loss are not due to greater hair cell loss in CBA/CaJ, but instead appear to reflect greater neuronal loss, plus more pronounced changes in the lateral wall, leading to EP decline. While both male and female CBA/CaJ show these pathologies, they are more pronounced in females. A novel feature that differed sharply by strain was moderate loss of outer sulcus cells (or 'root' cells) in spiral ligament of the upper basal turn in old CBA/CaJ mice, giving rise to deep indentations and void spaces in the ligament. We conclude that CBA/CaJ mice differ both quantitatively and qualitatively from CBA/J in age-related cochlear pathology, and model different types of presbycusis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-623
Number of pages19
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • endocochlear potential
  • gender effects
  • hair cells
  • marginal cells
  • outer sulcus cells
  • presbycusis
  • spiral ganglion
  • spiral ligament
  • stria vascularis


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