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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2007 Mar;8(1):18-31. Epub 2006 Dec 14.

Differential distribution of stem cells in the auditory and vestibular organs of the inner ear.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, 801 Welch Road, Stanford, CA 94305-5739, USA.

Abstract

The adult mammalian cochlea lacks regenerative capacity, which is the main reason for the permanence of hearing loss. Vestibular organs, in contrast, replace a small number of lost hair cells. The reason for this difference is unknown. In this work we show isolation of sphere-forming stem cells from the early postnatal organ of Corti, vestibular sensory epithelia, the spiral ganglion, and the stria vascularis. Organ of Corti and vestibular sensory epithelial stem cells give rise to cells that express multiple hair cell markers and express functional ion channels reminiscent of nascent hair cells. Spiral ganglion stem cells display features of neural stem cells and can give rise to neurons and glial cell types. We found that the ability for sphere formation in the mouse cochlea decreases about 100-fold during the second and third postnatal weeks; this decrease is substantially faster than the reduction of stem cells in vestibular organs, which maintain their stem cell population also at older ages. Coincidentally, the relative expression of developmental and progenitor cell markers in the cochlea decreases during the first 3 postnatal weeks, which is in sharp contrast to the vestibular system, where expression of progenitor cell markers remains constant or even increases during this period. Our findings indicate that the lack of regenerative capacity in the adult mammalian cochlea is either a result of an early postnatal loss of stem cells or diminishment of stem cell features of maturing cochlear cells.

PMID:
17171473
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2538418
Free PMC Article
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