Reorganization of the chick basilar papilla after acoustic trauma

Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0506.
The Journal of Comparative Neurology (Impact Factor: 3.51). 04/1993; 330(4):521-32. DOI: 10.1002/cne.903300408
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The auditory epithelium in birds and mammals consists of a postmitotic population of hair cells and supporting cells. Unlike mammals, birds can regenerate their auditory epithelia after trauma. Recent evidence indicates that supporting cells undergo mitosis after acoustic trauma, suggesting that supporting cells may transdifferentiate into hair cells. The goals of this study were to 1) characterize the responses of hair cells and supporting cells to acoustic trauma, and 2) determine whether hair cell loss is a prerequisite for generation of new hair cells. Chicks were exposed to an octave-band noise and their inner ears assayed with fluorescence or scanning electron microscopy. In one area of the basilar papilla, defined as the center of the lesion, extensive hair cell degeneration occurred. Expanded supporting cells obliterated degenerating hair cells and invaded spaces normally occupied by hair cells. Aggregates of DNA were found within the basilar papilla, suggesting that hair cell death and disintegration may occur within the epithelium. The epithelial sheet appeared structurally confluent at all times examined. Supporting cells exhibited altered apical contour in distal regions of the basilar papilla, where hair cell damage was mild or inconspicuous. Four days after noise exposure, newly generated hair cells were found in the center of the lesion and in the distal areas, where no hair cell loss could be detected. The results suggest that supporting cells may play an important role in maintenance and repair of the traumatized basilar papilla and raise the possibility that production of new hair cells is not dependent on hair cell loss in the immediate vicinity.

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