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Rutgers neuroscience may hold key to hearing loss remedy
Date:12/18/2007

he researchers found that two neurotrophin proteins in the cochlea brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) figure prominently in the relay of sound messages to the brain. Research by Davis and her team, begun more than six years ago, is now producing insights into precisely how these multidimensional proteins operate in the cochlea. These most recent findings appear in the Dec. 19 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

While neurotrophins have historically been prized for the survival value they impart to nerve cells, the researchers found that in the cochlea they do a great deal more. Their presence in relative proportions transforms the spiral ganglion neurons into either fast-firing transmitters to carry high pitched sound messages to the brain, or slow-firing carriers for the transmission of lower pitched signals. The neurotrophins accomplish this at the molecular level by tightly regulating a newly-defined and complex series of signaling proteins.

Davis explained that one end of the cochlea is home to the slower-firing neurons characterized by a preponderance of NT-3, while the other cochlear end is rich in BDNF, making those neurons faster-firing. Both neurotrophins are present in gradients throughout the range, but at any specific locale their amounts vary relative to each other lots of BDNF and a little NT-3 in the high frequency transmitters, for example, and the reverse as you move toward the other end.

In one possible remedial approach, Davis described how the neurotrophins could potentially be pumped into a newly-designed cochlear implant and released through graduated ports along its length.


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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert

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