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J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2005 Dec;6(4):341-54.

Survival of partially differentiated mouse embryonic stem cells in the scala media of the guinea pig cochlea.

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  • 1Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.


The low regenerative capacity of the hair cells of the mammalian inner ear is a major obstacle for functional recovery following sensorineural hearing loss. A potential treatment is to replace damaged tissue by transplantation of stem cells. To test this approach, undifferentiated and partially differentiated mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells were delivered into the scala media of the deafened guinea pig cochlea. Transplanted cells survived in the scala media for a postoperative period of at least nine weeks, evidenced by histochemical and direct fluorescent detection of enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). Transplanted cells were discovered near the spiral ligament and stria vascularis in the endolymph fluid of the scala media. In some cases, cells were observed close to the damaged organ of Corti structure. There was no evidence of significant immunological rejection of the implanted ES cells despite the absence of immunosuppression. Our surgical approach allowed efficient delivery of ES cells to the scala media while preserving the delicate structures of the cochlea. This is the first report of the survival of partially differentiated ES cells in the scala media of the mammalian cochlea, and it provides support for the potential of cell-based therapies for sensorineural hearing impairment.

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