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Neuroscience. 2007 Mar 30;145(3):923-30. Epub 2007 Feb 22.

Hematopoietic stem cells prevent hair cell death after transient cochlear ischemia through paracrine effects.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine, Shitsukawa, Toon, Ehime 791-0295, Japan.


Transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is regarded to be a potential approach for promoting repair of damaged organs. Here, we investigated the influence of hematopoietic stem cells on progressive hair cell degeneration after transient cochlear ischemia in gerbils. Transient cochlear ischemia was produced by extracranial occlusion of the bilateral vertebral arteries just before their entry into the transverse foramen of the cervical vertebra. Intrascalar injection of HSCs prevented ischemia-induced hair cell degeneration and ameliorated hearing impairment. We also showed that the protein level of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the organ of Corti was upregulated after cochlear ischemia and that treatment with HSCs augmented this ischemia-induced upregulation of GDNF. A tracking study revealed that HSCs injected into the cochlea were retained in the perilymphatic space of the cochlea, although they neither transdifferentiated into cochlear cell types nor fused with the injured hair cells after ischemia, suggesting that HSCs had therapeutic potential possibly through paracrine effects. Thus, we propose HSCs as a potential new therapeutic strategy for hearing loss.

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