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Neuroscience. 2009 Jul 7;161(3):915-25. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.03.072. Epub 2009 Apr 5.

Differential expression of apoptosis-related genes in the cochlea of noise-exposed rats.

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Center for Hearing and Deafness, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


Exposure to intense noise induces apoptosis in hair cells in the cochlea. To identify the molecular changes associated with noise-induced apoptosis, we used quantitative real-time PCR to evaluate the changes in 84 apoptosis-related genes in cochlear samples from the sensory epithelium and lateral wall. Sprague-Dawley rats exposed to a continuous noise at 115 dB SPL for 2 h. The exposure caused a 40-60 dB threshold shift 4 h post-exposure that decreased to 20-30 dB 7 days post-exposure. These functional changes were associated with apoptotic markers including nuclear condensation and fragmentation and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling staining. Immediately after the noise exposure, 12 genes were downregulated, whereas only one gene (Traf4) was upregulated. At 4 h post-exposure, eight genes were upregulated; three (Tnrsf1a, Tnfrsf1b, Tnfrst5) belonged to the Tnfrsf family, three (Bir3, Mcl1 and Prok2) have anti-apoptotic properties and one (Gadd45a) is a target of p53. At 7 days post-exposure, all the upregulated genes returned to pre-noise levels. Interestingly, the normal control cochlea had high constitutive levels of several apoptosis-related genes. These constitutively expressed genes, together with the inducible genes, may participate in the induction of cochlear apoptotic activity.

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