The relationship between type 1 diabetes and hearing loss is not well known, although based on many pathological studies, type 2 diabetes induced hearing loss is associated with microcirculation problems in the inner ear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the correlation between type 1 diabetes and hearing loss through hearing function and immunohistochemical analyses using type 1 diabetic Akita or wild-type (WT) mice. The Akita mice had a significant increase in hearing thresholds, blood glucose, and insulin tolerance compared to WT mice. Histological analysis showed that the loss of cells and damage to mitochondria in the spiral ganglion neurons of Akita mice were significantly increased compared to WT. Also, the stria vascularis showed decreased thickness, loss of intermediate cells, and disturbance in blood capillary shape in the Akita mice. Moreover, a reduction in type I, II, and IV fibrocytes and Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase alpha1 expression in spiral ligament was also observed. Cleaved caspase-3 expression was highly expressed in spiral ganglion neurons. In conclusion, hearing loss in type 1 diabetes is caused not only by ion imbalance and blood flow disorders of cochlear endolymph, but through the degenerative nervous system via apoptosis-mediated cell death.
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