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Neuroreport. 2006 May 29;17(8):767-71.

Characterization of proliferating cells from newborn mouse cochleae.

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Otology Skull Base Surgery Department, Hearing Research Institute, Eye and ENT Hospital of Shanghai Medical School, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China.


Loss of hair cells in mammals including human beings causes permanent hearing loss because the cochlea cannot regenerate hair cells spontaneously. Here we show that the newborn mouse cochleae contain sphere-forming cells that have the capacity for proliferation in culture, differentiating to form cells that express hair cell markers. When treated with epidermal growth factor or basic fibroblast growth factor, the number of spheres formed increases. The sphere cells express genes that are indicative of inner ear progenitor cells. After differentiation, some sphere cells grow a hair cell bundle-like structure that expresses hair cell marker myosin VIIA and espin. The sphere-forming cells being capable of differentiating into hair cell-like cells implies the possibility of using these sphere-forming cells for reconstructing the damaged cochlear hair cells.

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