Mechanism Underlying the Effects of Estrogen Deficiency on Otoconia
Otoconia-related vertigo and balance deficits, particularly benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), are common. Our recent studies in humans show that, while BPPV prevalence greatly increases with age in both genders, peri-menopausal women are especially susceptible. In the present study, we show that bilateral ovariectomized (OVX) mice have significant balance behavioral deficits, and that estrogen deficiency compromises otoconia maintenance and anchoring by reducing the expression of otoconial component and anchoring proteins. There is ectopic debris formation in the ampulla under estrogen deficiency due to aberrant matrix protein expression. Furthermore, phytoestrogen is effective in rescuing the otoconia abnormalities. By comparing the expression levels of known estrogen receptor (Esr) subtypes, and by examining the otoconia phenotypes of null mice for selected receptors, we postulate that Esr2 may be critical in mediating the effects of estrogen in otoconia maintenance.
Keywordsotoconia estrogen deficiency phytoestrogen menopause BPPV estrogen receptor
This work was supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, DC008603, DC008603-S1 and DC014748 to Y.W.L.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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