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Current Opinion in Physiology
Volume 18, 2020, Pages 106-115

Cochlear homeostasis: a molecular physiological perspective on maintenance of sound transduction and auditory neurotransmission with noise and ageing

Gary DHousley, Georgvon Jonquieres, Jeremy L Pinyon, Julie-Anne T, Matheson, Lily J Pearson, Theresa P Salthouse, Jennie ME Cederholm

Translational Neuroscience Facility & Department of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


Prominent physiological mechanisms that sustain cochlear function across a lifetime in the face of noise stress are highlighted. Central to this are humoral and intracellular processes protecting the mechanotransducer apparatus, and sustaining neurotransmission across the cochlear hair cell – spiral ganglion afferent synapse. At the level of the cochlear partition, ‘purinergic hearing adaptation’ desensitises cochlear hair cell – mediated sound transduction, protecting the hair cells and their afferent synapses from sustained noise stress. Within hair cells, Ca2+ buffering and active extrusion are central to mechanotransducer function and control of glutamatergic neurotransmission. With acoustic hyperstimulation plasticity in pre-synaptic and post-synaptic specialisations, particularly structural and molecular responses of ribbon complexes likely mitigate synaptopathy.

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