A potassium channel agonist protects hearing function and promotes outer hair cell survival for age-related hearing loss


Apr 17, 2017


Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is the most common sensory impairment mainly caused by degeneration of sensory hair cells in the cochlea with no causal medical treatment available. Auditory function and sensory hair cell survival critically depend on the Kv7.4 (KCNQ4) channel, a voltage-gated potassium channel expressed in outer hair cells (OHCs), with its impaired function or reduced activity previously associated with ARHL. Here, we investigated the effect of a potent small-molecule Kv7.4 agonist on ARHL in the senescence-accelerated mouse prone 8 (SAMP8) model. For the first time in vivo, we show that Kv7.4 activation can significantly reduce age-related threshold shifts of auditory brainstem responses as well as OHC loss in the SAMP8 model. Pharmacological activation of Kv7.4 thus holds great potential as a therapeutic approach for ARHL as well as other hearing impairments related to Kv7.4 function.

KCNQ4 Activators​

Intracellular zinc and ascorbate potentiate KCNQ4 channel.
Zinc ionophores are KCNQ channel openers.
Vardenafil, a PDE5 inhibitor, prevent the loss of surface KCNQ4 from outer hair cells induced by acoustic trauma.
Minoxidil is also a potassium channel opener, but its effect on KCNQ4 channel is unknown. Maybe the treatment of hair loss on the head and hair loss inside the ear is the same!
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