Ultrastructural evidence for hair cell regeneration in the mammalian inner ear

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Science  12 Mar 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5101, pp. 1616-1619
DOI: 10.1126/science.8456284


It has long been thought that hair cell loss from the inner ears of mammals is irreversible. This report presents scanning electron micrographs and thin sections of the utricles from the inner ears of guinea pigs that show that, after hair cell loss caused by treatment with the aminoglycoside gentamicin, hair cells reappeared. Four weeks after the end of treatment, a large number of cells with immature hair bundles in multiple stages of development could be identified in the utricle. Thin sections showed that lost type 1 hair cells were replaced by cells with a morphology similar to that of type 2 hair cells. These results indicate an unexpected capacity for hair cell regeneration in vivo in the mature mammalian inner ear.

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