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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 Jun;22(4):205-13.

Stem/progenitor cells in the postnatal inner ear of the GFP-nestin transgenic mouse.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Head and Neck, 31-25 Rehabilitation Center, 1000 Veteran Avenue, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Nestin promoter-GFP (green fluorescent protein) transgenic mice were used to determine the presence of stem/progenitor cells in the mouse inner ear. We examined the inner ear of mice at the following postnatal days (P): P0, P4, P5, P15 and P60. Hair cells stereocilia were identified with the use of the histochemical marker phalloidin. Whole endorgans or cryosections were analyzed under epi-fluorescent or confocal microscopy. From P0 to P5, GFP expressing cells were found in the vestibular sensory epithelia of the macula utricle, but not in the crista ampullaris. Cells within the stroma (tissue underneath the sensory epithelia), utricle, and crista were also GFP-positive. Satellite cells in the vestibular ganglia were GFP-positive, while vestibular ganglia neurons were not. In the organ of Corti, GFP signal was found in inner border and inner phalangeal cells that surround the inner hair cells (GFP-negative), Dieters cells and cells in the great epithelial ridge. Outer hair cells were mildly positive for GFP. Satellite cells in the spiral ganglia were GFP-positive, while spiral ganglia neurons were not. Similar GFP expression was found in the vestibule and cochlea of animals at P15, however, outer hair cells showed no GFP expression. The inner ear of P60 animals contained moderate GFP expression in the stroma of the crista ampullaris and utricle, but not within the sensory epithelia. In the organ of Corti, moderate GFP expression was found in a few Deiters cells. The present data indicates that the expression of nestin in the mouse inner ear is developmentally regulated; yet in the adult inner ear there are some nestin expressing cells, suggesting an intrinsic repair potential, although to a more limited extent than during early post-natal life.

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