Malformation of stria vascularis in the developing inner ear of the German waltzing guinea pig
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- Jin, Z., Mannström, P., Järlebark, L. et al. Cell Tissue Res (2007) 328: 257. doi:10.1007/s00441-006-0369-z
Auditory function and cochlear morphology have previously been described in the postnatal German waltzing guinea pig, a strain with recessive deafness. In the present study, cochlear histopathology was further investigated in the inner ear of the developing German waltzing guinea pig (gw/gw). The lumen of the cochlear duct diminished progressively from embryonic day (E) 35 to E45 and was absent at E50 because of the complete collapse of Reissner’s membrane onto the hearing organ. The embryonic stria vascularis, consisting of a simple epithelium, failed to transform into the complex trilaminar tissue seen in normal animals and displayed signs of degeneration. Subsequent degeneration of the sensory epithelium was observed from E50 and onwards. Defective and insufficient numbers of melanocytes were observed in the developing gw/gw stria vascularis. A gene involved in cochlear melanocyte development, Pax3, was markedly reduced in lateral wall tissue of the cochlea of both E40 and adult gw/gw individuals, whereas its expression was normal in the skin and diaphragm muscle of adult gw/gw animals. The Pax3 gene may thus be involved in the pathological process but is unlikely to be the primary mutated gene in the German waltzing guinea pig. TUNEL assay showed no signs of apoptotic cell death in the developing stria vascularis of this type of guinea pig. Thus, malformation of the stria vascularis appears to be the primary defect in the inner ear of the German waltzing guinea pig. Defective and insufficient numbers of melanocytes might migrate to the developing stria vascularis but fail to provide the proper support for the subsequent development of marginal and basal cells, thereby leading to stria vascularis malformation and dysfunction in the inner ear of the German waltzing guinea pig.