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J Comp Neurol. 2005 Mar 28;484(1):105-20.

Hair cell regeneration in sensory epithelia from the inner ear of a urodele amphibian.

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UCL Centre for Auditory Research, University College London, London WC1X 8EE, United Kingdom.


The capacity of urodele amphibians to regenerate a variety of body parts is providing insight into mechanisms of tissue regeneration in vertebrates. In this study the ability of the newt, Notophthalmus viridescens, to regenerate inner ear hair cells in vitro was examined. Intact otic capsules were maintained in organotypic culture. Incubation in 2 mM gentamicin for 48 hours resulted in ablation of all hair cells from the saccular maculae. Thus, any hair cell recovery was not due to repair of damaged hair cells. Immature hair cells were subsequently observed at approximately 12 days posttreatment. Their number increased over the following 7-14 days to reach approximately 30% of the normal number. Following incubation of damaged tissue with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), labeled nuclei were confined strictly within regions of hair cell loss, indicating that supporting cells entered S-phase. Double labeling of tissue with two different hair cell markers and three different antibodies to BrdU in various combinations, however, all showed that the nuclei of cells that labeled with hair cell markers did not label for BrdU. This suggested that the new hair cells were not derived from those cells that had undergone mitosis. When mitosis was blocked with aphidicolin, new hair cells were still generated. The results suggest that direct phenotypic conversion of supporting cells into hair cells without an intervening mitotic event is a major mechanism of hair cell regeneration in the newt. A similar mechanism has been proposed for the hair cell recovery phenomenon observed in the vestibular organs of mammals.

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