TrkB agonist drugs are shown here to have a significant effect on the regeneration of afferent cochlear synapses after noise-induced synaptopathy. The effects were consistent with regeneration of cochlear synapses that we observed in vitro after synaptic loss due to kainic acid–induced glutamate toxicity and were elicited by administration of TrkB agonists, amitriptyline, and 7,8-dihydroxyflavone, directly into the cochlea via the posterior semicircular canal 48 hours after exposure to noise. Synaptic counts at the inner hair cell and wave 1 amplitudes in the auditory brainstem response (ABR) were partially restored 2 weeks after drug treatment. Effects of amitriptyline on wave 1 amplitude and afferent auditory synapse numbers in noise-exposed ears after systemic (as opposed to local) delivery were profound and long-lasting; synapses in the treated animals remained intact 1 year after the treatment. However, the effect of systemically delivered amitriptyline on synaptic rescue was dependent on dose and the time window of administration: it was only effective when given before noise exposure at the highest injected dose. The long-lasting effect and the efficacy of postexposure treatment indicate a potential broad application for the treatment of synaptopathy, which often goes undetected until well after the original damaging exposures.
Katharine A. Fernandez, Takahisa Watabe, Mingjie Tong, Xiankai Meng, Kohsuke Tani, Sharon G. Kujawa, Albert S.B. Edge