Abstract and Keywords
Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing impairment and deafness in humans. It usually results from damage to hair cells. This article addresses how hair cells die in response to trauma, how this hair cell loss induces the supporting cells to regenerate new hair cells and supporting cells, and how some of the mechanisms identified in the bird cochlea have been utilized to experimentally induce limited aspects of regeneration in the mammalian cochlea. Additional experimental approaches involving stem cells have been pursued in order to repopulate the organ of Corti with cells that can repair the damaged auditory sensory epithelium. Continued explorations of the mechanisms that control mammalian supporting cell proliferation and the differentiation of hair cell phenotypes, and further investigations of the potential for stem cells to repopulate the damaged cochlea, will be critical to the development of effective biological therapies for treating hearing loss.
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