Morphological and morphometric characterization of direct transdifferentiation of support cells into hair cells in ototoxin-exposed neonatal utricular explants

Mimmi Werner, Thomas R. Van De Water, Peter Hammarsten, Göran Arnoldsson, Diana Berggren

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3 Scopus citations


We have studied aminoglycoside-induced vestibular hair-cell renewal using long-term culture of utricular macula explants from 4-day-old rats. Explanted utricles were exposed to 1mM of gentamicin for 48h, during 2nd and 3rd days invitro (DIV), and then recovering in unsupplemented medium. Utricles were harvested at specified time points from the 2nd through the 28th DIV. The cellular events that occurred within hair cell epithelia during the culture period were documented from serial sectioned specimens. Vestibular hair cells (HCs) and supporting cells (SCs) were systematically counted using light microscopy (LM) with the assistance of morphometric software. Ultrastructural observations were made from selected specimens with transmission electron microscopy (TEM). After 7 DIV, i.e. four days after gentamicin exposure, the density of HCs was 11% of the number of HCs observed in non-gentamicin-exposed control explants. At 28 DIV the HC density was 61% of the number of HCs observed in the control group explant specimens. Simultaneously with this increase in HCs there was a corresponding decline in the number of SCs within the epithelium. The proportion of HCs in relation to SCs increased significantly in the gentamicin-exposed explant group during the 5th to the 28th DIV period of culture. There were no significant differences in the volume estimations of the gentamicin-exposed and the control group explants during the observed period of culture. Morphological observations showed that gentamicin exposure induced extensive loss of HCs within the epithelial layer, which retained their intact apical and basal linings. At 7 to 14 DIV (i.e. 3-11 days after gentamicin exposure) a pseudostratified epithelium with multiple layers of disorganized cells was observed. At 21 DIV new HCs were observed that also possessed features resembling SCs. After 28 DIV a new luminal layer of HCs with several layers of SCs located more basally characterized the gentamicin-exposed epithelium. No mitoses were observed within the epithelial layer of any explants.Our conclusion is that direct transdifferentiation of SCs into HCs was the only process contributing to the renewal of HCs after gentamicin exposure in these explants of vestibular inner ear epithelia obtained from the labyrinths of 4-day-old rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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