, Volume 325, Issue 1, pp 23-31
Date: 09 Mar 2006

Supporting cell proliferation after hair cell injury in mature guinea pig cochlea in vivo

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In cold-blooded animals, lost sensory hair cells can be replaced via a process of regenerative cell proliferation of epithelial supporting cells. In contrast, in mammalian cochlea, receptor (hair) cells are believed to be produced only during embryogenesis; after maturity, sensory or supporting cell proliferation or regeneration are thought to occur neither under normal conditions nor after trauma. Using bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) as a proliferation marker, we have assessed cell proliferation activity in the mature organ of Corti in the cochlea of young guinea pigs following severe damage to the outer hair cells induced by kanamycin sulfate and ethacrynic acid. Although limited, we have found BrdU-labeled nuclei in the regions of Deiters cells when BrdU is given for 3 days or longer. When BrdU is given for 10 days, at least one labeled nucleus can be observed in the organ of Corti in approximately half of the ears; proliferating cells typically appear as paired daughters, with one nucleus being displaced away from the basement membrane to the position expected of the hair cells. Double-staining with antibodies to cytokeratin, vimentin, and p27 have shown that the BrdU-labeled nuclei are located in cells phenotypically similar to Deiters cells. Most of the uptake of BrdU occurs 3–5 days following ototoxic insult, and the number of BrdU-labeled cells does not decrease until 30 days following insult. These findings indicate that Deiters cells in the mature mammalian cochlea maintain a limited competence to re-enter the cell cycle and proliferate after hair cell injury, and that they can survive at least for 1 month.

This work was supported by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Japan (grants 12120101, 15110201) and by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan (grant 13470357) to T.Y.