Age related hearing loss (ARHL) is the most common health condition affecting one third of the population over age 65. Loss of spiral ganglion neurons (SGN), conveying sound information from the hair cells in the cochlea to the central auditory system, is a major contributor to ARHL. In mammals, three types of auditory nerve fibers can be distinguished based upon their physiological properties.
Due to sound sensitivity at low frequencies similar to humans, the Mongolian gerbil has become a well-established model organism to study age-related hearing loss.
In this project we are aiming for the molecular characterization of the gerbil SGN subpopulations along the tonotopic axis of the cochlea as well as their distribution during aging using molecular in situ analyses and next generation sequencing approaches.
Insights into molecular changes in SGNs during aging might lead to better understanding of their age dependent decline and help to develop new therapeutic approaches.