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Trends Neurosci. 1997 Apr;20(4):159-64.

The role of neurotrophic factors in regulating the development of inner ear innervation.

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  • 1Creighton University, Dept of Biomedical Sciences, Omaha, NE 68178, USA.


Several neurotrophins and their receptors regulate the survival of vestibular and cochlear neurons and probably also the efferent and autonomic neurons that innervate the inner ear. Mice lacking either brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or its associated receptor, TrkB, lose all innervation to the semicircular canals and have reduced innervation of the outer hair cells in the apical and middle turns of the cochlea. Mice lacking neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) or its receptor, TrkC, lose many spiral ganglion cells predominantly in the basal turn of the cochlea. Nerve fibers from spiral ganglion cells in the middle turn extended to inner hair cells of the base. In mice lacking both BDNF and NT-3, or both TrkB and TrkC, there is a complete loss of innervation to the inner ear. Thus, these two neurotrophins and their associated receptors have been shown to be absolutely necessary for the normal development of afferent innervation of the inner ear. Current research efforts are testing the therapeutic potential for neurotrophins to treat hearing loss.

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