Millions of people are affected by hearing loss. Hearing loss is frequently caused by noise or aging and often associated with loss of pericytes. Pericytes populate the small vessels in the adult cochlea. However, their role in different types of hearing loss is largely unknown. Using an inducible and conditional pericyte depletion mouse model and noise-exposed mouse model, we show that loss of pericytes leads to marked changes in vascular structure, in turn leading to vascular degeneration and hearing loss. In vitro, using advanced tissue explants from pericyte fluorescence reporter models combined with exogenous donor pericytes, we show that pericytes, signaled by VEGF isoform A165 (VEGFA165), vigorously drive new vessel growth in both adult and neonatal mouse inner ear tissue. In vivo, the delivery of an adeno-associated virus serotype 1–mediated (AAV1–mediated) VEGFA165 viral vector to pericyte-depleted or noise-exposed animals prevented and regenerated lost pericytes, improved blood supply, and attenuated hearing loss. These studies provide the first clear-cut evidence that pericytes are critical for vascular regeneration, vascular stability, and hearing in adults. The restoration of vascular function in the damaged cochlea, including in noise-exposed animals, suggests that VEGFA165 gene therapy could be a new strategy for ameliorating vascular associated hearing disorders.
Jinhui Zhang, Zhiqiang Hou, Xiaohan Wang, Han Jiang, Lingling Neng, Yunpei Zhang, Qing Yu, George Burwood, Junha Song, Manfred Auer, Anders Fridberger, Michael Hoa, Xiaorui Shi
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.