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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2001 Mar;2(1):79-86.

Hair cell death in a hearing-deficient canary.

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  • 1Cell and Molecular Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


Cell death has been documented in bird auditory inner ear epithelia after induced damage. This cell death is quickly followed by an increase in supporting cell division and regeneration of the epithelium, thereby suggesting a possible relationship between these two processes. However, aspects of this relationship still need to be better understood. The Belgian Waterslager (BWS) canary is an ideal system in which to study cell death and subsequent cell division. In contrast to mixed breed (MB) canaries, cell division normally occurs in the auditory end organ of the BWS without any external manipulation. In addition, some of the cells in the auditory epithelium may be dying through an apoptotic-like process. In the present study two methods were used to quantify dying cells in the BWS and MB canary auditory epithelia: morphological criteria and TUNEL. Results confirm that some of the abnormal hair cells in the BWS auditory epithelium are apoptotic-like. The presence of both cell death and cell division indicates that these processes act concurrently in the adult end organ. Future studies are needed to determine if cell death is a stimulus for the observed cell division.

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