Molecular and cytological profiling of biological aging of mouse cochlear inner and outer hair cells

Huizhan Liu, Kimberlee P. Giffen, Lei Chen, Heidi J. Henderson, Talia A. Cao, Grant A. Kozeny, Kirk W. Beisel, Yi Li, David Z. He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) negatively impacts quality of life in the elderly population. The prevalent cause of ARHL is loss of mechanosensitive cochlear hair cells (HCs). The molecular and cellular mechanisms of HC degeneration remain poorly understood. Using RNA-seq transcriptomic analyses of inner and outer HCs isolated from young and aged mice, we show that HC aging is associated with changes in key molecular processes, including transcription, DNA damage, autophagy, and oxidative stress, as well as genes related to HC specialization. At the cellular level, HC aging is characterized by loss of stereocilia, shrinkage of HC soma, and reduction in outer HC mechanical properties, suggesting that functional decline in mechanotransduction and cochlear amplification precedes HC loss and contributes to ARHL. Our study reveals molecular and cytological profiles of aging HCs and identifies genes such as Sod1, Sirt6, Jund, and Cbx3 as biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for ameliorating ARHL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110665
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 12 2022


  • CBA mouse
  • CP: Neuroscience
  • RNA-seq
  • age-related hearing loss
  • aging
  • electromotility
  • hair cell
  • mechanotransduction
  • transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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