Age-Related Change in Vestibular Ganglion Cell Populations in Individuals With Presbycusis and Normal Hearing

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Abstract

Hypothesis:

We sought to establish that the decline of vestibular ganglion cell counts uniquely correlates with spiral ganglion cell counts, cochlear hair cell counts, and hearing phenotype in individuals with presbycusis.

Background:

The relationship between aging in the vestibular system and aging in the cochlea is a topic of ongoing investigation. Histopathologic age-related changes the vestibular system may mirror what is seen in the cochlea, but correlations with hearing phenotype and the impact of presbycusis are not well understood.

Methods:

Vestibular ganglion cells, spiral ganglion cells, and cochlear hair cells were counted in specimens from individuals with presbycusis and normal hearing. These were taken from within a large collection of processed human temporal bones. Correlations between histopathology and hearing phenotype were investigated.

Results:

Vestibular ganglion cell counts were positively correlated with spiral ganglion cell counts and cochlear hair cell counts and were negatively correlated with hearing phenotype. There was no statistical evidence on linear regression to suggest that the relationship between age and cell populations differed significantly according to whether presbycusis was present or not. Superior vestibular ganglion cells were more negatively correlated with age than inferior ganglion cells. No difference in vestibular ganglion cells was noted based on sex.

Conclusion:

Vestibular ganglion cell counts progressively deteriorate with age, and this loss correlates closely with changes in the cochlea, as well as hearing phenotype. However, these correlations do not appear to be unique in individuals with presbycusis as compared with those with normal hearing.

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