Molecular Otology

Understanding the molecular pathogenesis of Meniere’s Disease
The goal for this project is to better understand the molecular biological changes that occur in the inner ear as a result of endolymphatic hydrops, a condition known to accompany Meniere’s disease, a disorder associated with hearing loss and vertigo. Although it has been shown that vertigo can be controlled by numerous medical and surgical interventions, the hearing loss and subsequent deafness have no known treatment. Our studies are done using a well-known model of surgically induced endolymphatic hydrops in the guinea pig. Once hydrops has been established, inner ear tissue samples will be collected and subjected to molecular biological techniques that allow for determination of whether messenger RNA levels of genes critical to EAA physiology are up-regulated or down-regulated. This will provide clues to better understand the exact biochemical pathways that are activated in this condition and possibly provide for new treatment strategies. It is expected that this project will lead to a larger grant in the future which will allow us to explore and define the entire cascade of biochemical changes which accompany Meniere-related endolymphatic hydrops and could lead to better treatment alternatives for patients with Meniere-related hearing loss.

Personnel involved: 
PI: Cliff Megerian, M.D.
Co-PI: Kumar Alagramam, Ph.D. 
Research Assistant: Lauren Kisley, B.S.