How loss of hearing occurs with age

Washington, Oct 15 (ANI): Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School have found out how age-related hearing loss may occur in humans.

The discovery could eventually help physicians develop drugs to combat progressive hearing loss.

James Ervasti and colleague Ben Perrin discovered two key cellular processes in mice that are required to maintain auditory function.

The two proteins are 99 percent identical; however, their slight differences have been exactly conserved through evolution from birds to mammals, suggesting that each protein may have important and distinct functions.

Ervasti and Perrin tested the idea that two closely linked proteins have separate, but important, roles in hearing by knocking out each gene in mouse auditory hair cells.

They found that they do have different maintenance functions that together keep the hair-like fibers-that allow mice to hear -- healthy. Both knockout mice had normal hearing at young ages, but developed specific types of progressive hearing loss and stereocilia pathology that differed depending on which protein was lost.

"These separate maintenance pathways are likely important for maintaining auditory function during aging and may contribute to future understanding of common forms of age-related hearing loss in humans," Perrin said.

Their paper is published on October 14 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics. (ANI)

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