Oticon Alta

When the Noise Gets Too Loud, A Special Protein Helps Patch Up Inner Ear Damage

Gamma-actin is not necessary for inner ear development, but is required to preserve normal hearing in adults.

Excessive exposure to loud noise can have a devastating effect on the sensory cells in your inner ear, causing the stereocilia-the normally upright filaments sprouting from their tops-to be sheared off at the tip, to droop like a dehydrated daffodil, or to be wiped out entirely, depending on the noise level. A new study of a knock-out animal model provides fresh insights into how noise damages the inner ear and how that damage can be repaired. The study, published in the June 3, 2009, early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by scientists from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University, the University of Kentucky, and Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Neb.

NIDCD supports and conducts research and research training on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech and language and provides health information, based upon scientific discovery, to the public. For more information about NIDCD programs, see the Web site at www.nidcd.nih.gov.

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