About this Research Topic
The complexity of the mammalian auditory system is fascinating. With slight adaptations in different species, it allows for hearing in a wide variety of environments, e.g., underwater, in the desert, the jungle, or urban agglomerations. Evolution has led to the development of three interconnected parts of the peripheral auditory system, namely the outer, middle, and inner ear. Any disruption of these intricate structures can lead to hearing loss: either through a reduced transmission of the sound vibrations in the first two parts or via damage to the inner ear resulting in a limited transformation of such stimuli to electrical impulses. The term sensorineural hearing loss describes a disturbance at the level of the inner ear or the auditory nerve and represents the most common type of hearing loss. Depending on the extent and nature of the problem, temporary or permanent auditory impairment up to complete deafness might result.
Over the last several years, tremendous progress has been made in the understanding of multiple pathologies affecting the ear. A prime example would be deciphering the major role of inflammatory pathways underlying many diseases, allowing for a better understanding of the consequences of phenomena like glutamate excitotoxicity. Whether it was identifying triggering events leading to tumors, epidemiological insights, or a better comprehension of molecular processes after noise exposure, physical trauma, or administration of ototoxic drugs, novel discoveries through well-designed studies have had major implications for patients affected by these conditions. Hence, for the first time in decades, novel treatment options with the potential of supplementing glucocorticoids, the current omnipresent gold standard in many cases, appear to be within reach. Namely, the repurposing of drugs or approaches featuring viral vectors, CRISPR/Cas9, or stem cells lift the hopes of affected patients.
The goal of this Research Topic is to reinforce the focus on otologic trauma and pathology by creating a collection of articles summarizing novel findings of clinical trials and preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies, preferably with translational implications for human patients.
Specific themes that should be addressed in this Research Topic with the help of original research articles and reviews include the following:
• Epidemiology of hearing loss and underlying diseases
• Ototoxic drugs: mechanisms, diagnosis, and potential therapies
• Noise exposure: mechanisms, diagnosis, receptor, neural outcomes, and potential therapies
• Physical trauma affecting the ear: mechanisms, diagnosis, and potential therapies
• Discoveries related to hearing implants in situ
• Novel insights regarding genetic diseases leading to hearing loss
• Mechanistic studies addressing other otologic conditions like tinnitus, hyperacusis, presbycusis, etc.
Image credits: Dr. Lukas Landegger (unpublished work)
Confocal image depicting three rows of outer hair cells -gray/blue, Inner hair cells - green (AAV-induced GFP expression), and neuronal structures -red
Keywords: ARHL, cochlea, hearing loss, inner ear, noise
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