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It has recently been shown that the oxygen-regulated factors erythropoietin (Epo) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) confer protection on different cells, including neuronal-derived ones. The receptors for Epo and VEGF are widely expressed in different organs. Since mammalian auditory hair cells can irreversibly be damaged by different agents, we aimed to identify otoprotective compounds. We focused on the role of Epo and VEGF in the inner ear and review the recent studies. Epo and its receptor are expressed in the inner ear. In vitro experiments on auditory hair cells showed a protective effect of Epo in ischemia- and gentamicin-induced hair cell damage. In contrast, an in vivo study using an animal model of noise-induced hearing loss showed a negative effect of Epo. Also VEGF and its receptors are expressed in the inner ear. Changes in the expression of VEGF or its receptors have been found in the cochlea after noise exposure, transcranial vibration and diabetic or aged animals. Until now, there are no studies about a direct effect of VEGF on auditory hair cells in vitro or in vivo. We could exclude a protective effect of VEGF on gentamicin-induced auditory hair cell damage in vitro. Thus, we conclude that Epo but not VEGF has a protective effect on auditory hair cell damage at least in vitro.


Arianne Monge Naldi, Max Gassmann, Daniel Bodmer. Erythropoietin but not VEGF has a protective effect on auditory hair cells in the inner ear. Cellular and molecular life sciences : CMLS. 2009 Nov;66(22):3595-9

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PMID: 19763398

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