Hearing loss is highly heterogeneous, but one common form involves a failure to maintain the local ionic environment of the sensory hair cells reflected in a reduced endocochlear potential. We used a genetic approach to ask whether this type of pathology can be reversed, using the Spns2tm1a mouse mutant known to show this defect. By activating Spns2 gene transcription at different ages after the onset of hearing loss, we found that an existing auditory impairment can be reversed to give close to normal thresholds for an auditory brainstem response (ABR), at least at low to mid stimulus frequencies. Delaying the activation of Spns2 led to less effective recovery of ABR thresholds, suggesting that there is a critical period for intervention. Early activation of Spns2 not only led to improvement in auditory function but also to protection of sensory hair cells from secondary degeneration. The genetic approach we have used to establish that this type of hearing loss is in principle reversible could be extended to many other diseases using available mouse resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2307355120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2023


  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Hearing Loss/genetics
  • Anion Transport Proteins/genetics
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Cochlear Microphonic Potentials
  • Hair Cells, Auditory/pathology


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