Link to HAL – pasteur-03689055
Link to DOI – 10.3389/fneur.2022.816534
Frontiers in Neurology, 2022, 13, pp.816534. ⟨10.3389/fneur.2022.816534⟩
The inner ear is responsible for both hearing and balance. These functions are dependent on the correct functioning of mechanosensitive hair cells, which convert sound- and motion-induced stimuli into electrical signals conveyed to the brain. During evolution of the inner ear, the major changes occurred in the hearing organ, whereas the structure of the vestibular organs remained constant in all vertebrates over the same period. Vestibular deficits are highly prevalent in humans, due to multiple intersecting causes: genetics, environmental factors, ototoxic drugs, infections and aging. Studies of deafness genes associated with balance deficits and their corresponding animal models have shed light on the development and function of these two sensory systems. Bilateral vestibular deficits often impair individual postural control, gaze stabilization, locomotion and spatial orientation. The resulting dizziness, vertigo, and/or falls (frequent in elderly populations) greatly affect patient quality of life. In the absence of treatment, prosthetic devices, such as vestibular implants, providing information about the direction, amplitude and velocity of body movements, are being developed and have given promising results in animal models and humans. Novel methods and techniques have led to major progress in gene therapies targeting the inner ear (gene supplementation and gene editing), 3D inner ear organoids and reprograming protocols for generating hair cell-like cells. These rapid advances in multiscale approaches covering basic research, clinical diagnostics and therapies are fostering interdisciplinary research to develop personalized treatments for vestibular disorders.