ABSTRACT: Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) have a pivotal role during nervous system development and in its functional maintenance. IGF-I and its high affinity receptor (IGF1R) are expressed in the developing inner ear and in the postnatal cochlear and vestibular ganglia. We recently showed that trophic support by IGF-I is essential for the early neurogenesis of the chick cochleovestibular ganglion (CVG). In the chicken embryo otic vesicle, IGF-I regulates developmental death dynamics by regulating the activity and/or levels of key intracellular molecules, including lipid and protein kinases such as ceramide kinase, Akt and Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Mice lacking IGF-I lose many auditory neurons and present increased auditory thresholds at early postnatal ages. Neuronal loss associated to IGF-I deficiency is caused by apoptosis of the auditory neurons, which presented abnormally increased levels of activated caspase-3. It is worth noting that in man, homozygous deletion of the IGF-1 gene causes sensory-neural deafness. IGF-I is thus necessary for normal development and maintenance of the inner ear. The trophic actions of IGF-I in the inner ear suggest that this factor may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of hearing loss.
Hearing Research 11/2004; 196(1-2):19-25. · 2.70 Impact Factor