Shakuntala Sadhu L&S Biological Sciences
Investigating Hormone Communication between the Brain and Inner Ear
Hormones play an important role in our body and its everyday functions, however it is not clearly understood how hormones relay information back to endocrine organs and the brain. Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder characterized by hearing and balance dysfunction. Patients with Ménière’s disease often appear to have elevated levels of the hormone vasopressin (AVP) in their plasma and exhibit distension of the endolymphatic duct and sac (EDS), a part of the inner ear which helps to regulate endolymphatic volume and pressure. By characterizing the AVP hormonal circuit in the inner ear, I can better understand Ménière’s disease as it is currently unclear what causes fluid buildup in the inner ear. Previous work in the Swinburne lab has uncovered 2 distinct receptors that AVP triggers in the ear, the Avpr1ab and Avpr2ab receptors (Figure 1), which both seem to have a different function and response. My work will aim to characterize the Avpr2ab receptor mutant phenotype as I hypothesize the lack of this receptor will cause fluid buildup in and distension of the EDS.