Macrophages Promote Repair of Inner Hair Cell Ribbon Synapses following Noise-Induced Cochlear Synaptopathy

Vijayprakash Manickam, Dinesh Y. Gawande, Andrew R. Stothert, Anna C. Clayman, Lyudmila Batalkina, Mark E. Warchol, Kevin K. Ohlemiller, Tejbeer Kaur

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10 Scopus citations


Resident cochlear macrophages rapidly migrate into the inner hair cell synaptic region and directly contact the damaged synaptic connections after noise-induced synaptopathy. Eventually, such damaged synapses are spontaneously repaired, but the precise role of macrophages in synaptic degeneration and repair remains unknown. To address this, cochlear macrophages were eliminated using colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) inhibitor, PLX5622. Sustained treatment with PLX5622 in CX3CR1GFP/1 mice of both sexes led to robust elimination of resident macrophages (;94%) without significant adverse effects on peripheral leukocytes, cochlear function, and structure. At 1 day (d) post noise exposure of 93 or 90dB SPL for 2 hours, the degree of hearing loss and synapse loss were comparable in the presence and absence of macrophages. At 30d after exposure, damaged synapses appeared repaired in the presence of macrophages. However, in the absence of macrophages, such synaptic repair was significantly reduced. Remarkably, on cessation of PLX5622 treatment, macrophages repopulated the cochlea, leading to enhanced synaptic repair. Elevated auditory brainstem response thresholds and reduced auditory brainstem response Peak 1 amplitudes showed limited recovery in the absence of macrophages but recovered similarly with resident and repopulated macrophages. Cochlear neuron loss was augmented in the absence of macrophages but showed preservation with resident and repopulated macrophages after noise exposure. While the central auditory effects of PLX5622 treatment and microglia depletion remain to be investigated, these data demonstrate that macrophages do not affect synaptic degeneration but are necessary and sufficient to restore cochlear synapses and function after noise-induced synaptopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2075-2089
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 22 2023


  • PLX5622
  • cochlea
  • inner hair cells
  • macrophages
  • noise-induced hearing loss
  • ribbon synapses


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