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Title: What can insects teach us about hearing loss?

Over the last three decades, insects have been utilized to provide a deep and fundamental understanding of many human diseases and disorders. Here, we present arguments for insects as models to understand general principles underlying hearing loss. Despite ∼600 million years since the last common ancestor of vertebrates and invertebrates, we share an overwhelming degree of genetic homology particularly with respect to auditory organ development and maintenance. Despite the anatomical differences between human and insect auditory organs, both share physiological principles of operation. We explain why these observations are expected and highlight areas in hearing loss research in which insects can provide insight. We start by briefly introducing the evolutionary journey of auditory organs, the reasons for using insect auditory organs for hearing loss research, and the tools and approaches available in insects. Then, the first half of the review focuses on auditory development and auditory disorders with a genetic cause. The second half analyses the physiological and genetic consequences of ageing and short‐ and long‐term changes as a result of noise exposure. We finish with complex age and noise interactions in auditory systems. In this review, we present some of the evidence and arguments to support the use of insects to study mechanisms and potential treatments for hearing loss in humans. Obviously, insects cannot fully substitute for all aspects of human auditory function and loss of function, although there are many important questions that can be addressed in an animal model for which there are important ethical, practical and experimental advantages.image

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The Journal of Physiology
Medium: X Size: p. 297-316
p. 297-316
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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