Tonotopy in calcium homeostasis and vulnerability of cochlear hair cells.
Hear Res. 2019 05;376:11-21
Authors: Fettiplace R, Nam JH
Ototoxicity, noise overstimulation, or aging, can all produce hearing loss with similar properties, in which outer hair cells (OHCs), principally those at the high-frequency base of the cochlea, are preferentially affected. We suggest that the differential vulnerability may partly arise from differences in Ca2+ balance among cochlear locations. Homeostasis is determined by three factors: Ca2+ influx mainly via mechanotransducer (MET) channels; buffering by calcium-binding proteins and organelles like mitochondria; and extrusion by the plasma membrane CaATPase pump. We review quantification of these parameters and use our experimentally-determined values to model changes in cytoplasmic and mitochondrial Ca2+ during Ca2+ influx through the MET channels. We suggest that, in OHCs, there are two distinct micro-compartments for Ca2+ handling, one in the hair bundle and the other in the cell soma. One conclusion of the modeling is that there is a tonotopic gradient in the ability of OHCs to handle the Ca2+ load, which correlates with their vulnerability to environmental challenges. High-frequency basal OHCs are the most susceptible because they have much larger MET currents and have smaller dimensions than low-frequency apical OHCs.
PMID: 30473131 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]