New-hearing-loss-treatments-OSU-Dr-Ruili-Xie-and-Faculty-In-LabIt’s been a productive couple of years for Ruili Xie, PhD, a researcher who leads the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

In 2022 and 2023, he secured two National Institutes of Health grants to support new studies on hearing loss: an R01 award from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and a P01 project grant from the National Institute on Aging.

In the midst of launching these five-year studies, Dr. Xie published two scientific articles highlighting his findings from previous federally funded research. He also gave lectures about his research to faculty at several universities.

Innovative research may lead to new interventions

Dr. Xie’s R01-funded study, which launched in July 2022, is focused on noise-induced hearing loss. Specifically, he and his colleagues aim to identify the cellular changes that occur in the auditory nervous system following moderate to traumatic noise exposure.

Today, roughly 18 months into the project, Dr. Xie says he’s excited about his team’s progress — and optimistic about the insights they’ll gain.

“Although the cellular changes caused by noise-induced hearing loss are well studied in the inner ear, we don’t fully understand how noise exposure damages the cochlear nucleus inside the brainstem,” Dr. Xie says. “We want to pinpoint the changes that occur in the auditory nerve synapses and the neurons within the cochlear nucleus. By using transgenic mouse models, we can investigate these neural mechanisms in a way that’s not possible with human subjects.”

Specifically, Dr. Xie and his team are using mice to identify different auditory nerve subtypes — under normal hearing and noise-induced hearing loss conditions. They’re measuring and comparing functional and structural changes at the cellular and synaptic levels, using novel techniques that combine electrophysiology (to record neuronal activity) and immunohistochemistry (to see 3D changes in morphology).

“At this point we’re conducting basic research to better understand the pathological changes that occur with noise-induced hearing loss,” Dr. Xie says. “But this knowledge could one day lead to interventions that prevent or delay the damage that occurs after noise exposure, such as new drugs that reduce cellular damage or promote healing.”

Additional achievements

Following completion of an earlier R01-funded project on age-related hearing loss, Dr. Xie authored articles about his team’s findings that were accepted for publication:

Over the course of eight months in 2022 and 2023, Dr. Xie also accepted invitations to speak at three universities in Ohio and California. His talks covered mechanisms of age-related hearing loss in the cochlear nucleus.

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