The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 51: 649 - 654 (2007)

Vol 51, Issue 6-7

Special Issue: Ear Development

Non-sensory cells in the deafened organ of Corti: approaches for repair

Published: 1 September 2007

Yehoash Raphael*, Young-Ho Kim, Yasunori Osumi and Masahiko Izumikawa

Department of Otolaryngology, Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA


After moderate cochlear trauma, hair cells degenerate and their places are taken by phalangeal scars formed by differentiated supporting cells. A short time after trauma, these supporting cells can respond to an induced expression of genes which signal hair cell differentiation during normal development and transdifferentiate into new hair cells. However, these non-sensory cells often lose their differentiated features after severe insults or prolonged hearing loss and become a simple, flat epithelium. The flat organ of Corti can serve as a substrate for gene- and stem cell-based therapies. Despite its prevalence, the flat epithelium is not well characterized. Recent data show that cells of the flat epithelium can divide and maintain the structural confluence of the membranous labyrinth. The mitotic potential of these cells should facilitate production of cells for therapies based on recapitulation of development or insertion of stem cells.


hair cell, supporting cell, ototoxicity, regeneration, stem cell

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