The search for noise-induced cochlear synaptopathy in humans: Mission impossible?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article – Annual report year: 2019Researchpeer-review

  • Author: Bramhall, Naomi

    Portland VA Medical Center, United States

  • Author: Beach, Elizabeth Francis

    Macquarie University, United States

  • Author: Epp, Bastian

    Hearing Systems Group, Hearing Systems, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, Ørsteds Plads, 2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

  • Author: Le Prell, Colleen G.

    University of Texas at Dallas, United States

  • Author: Lopez-Poveda, Enrique A.

    Institute of Neurosciences of Castile and Leon, Spain

  • Author: Plack, Christopher John

    University of Manchester, United Kingdom

  • Author: Schaette, Roland

    University College London, United Kingdom

  • Author: Verhulst, Sarah

    Ghent University, Belgium

  • Author: Canlon, Barbara

    Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

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Animal studies demonstrate that noise exposure can permanently damage the synapses between inner hair cells and auditory nerve fibers, even when outer hair cells are intact and there is no clinically relevant permanent threshold shift. Synaptopathy disrupts the afferent connection between the cochlea and the central auditory system and is predicted to impair speech understanding in noisy environments and potentially result in tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. While cochlear synaptopathy has been demonstrated in numerous experimental animal models, synaptopathy can only be confirmed through post-mortem temporal bone analysis, making it difficult to study in living humans. A variety of non-invasive measures have been used to determine whether noise-induced synaptopathy occurs in humans, but the results are conflicting. The overall objective of this article is to synthesize the existing data on the functional impact of noise-induced synaptopathy in the human auditory system. The first section of the article summarizes the studies that provide evidence for and against noise-induced synaptopathy in humans. The second section offers potential explanations for the differing results between studies. The final section outlines suggested methodologies for diagnosing synaptopathy in humans with the aim of improving consistency across studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHearing Research
Pages (from-to)88-103
Publication statusPublished - 2019
CitationsWeb of Science® Times Cited: No match on DOI

ID: 175851180