Altered cochlear fibrocytes in a mouse model of DFN3 nonsyndromic deafness.
DFN3, an X chromosome-linked nonsyndromic mixed deafness, is caused by mutations in the BRN-4 gene, which encodes a POU transcription factor. Brn-4-deficient mice were created and found to exhibit profound deafness. No gross morphological changes were observed in the conductive ossicles or cochlea, although there was a dramatic reduction in endocochlear potential. Electron microscopy revealed severe ultrastructural alterations in cochlear spiral ligament fibrocytes. The findings suggest that these fibrocytes, which are mesenchymal in origin and for which a role in potassium ion homeostasis has been postulated, may play a critical role in auditory function. (+info)
Essential role of BETA2/NeuroD1 in development of the vestibular and auditory systems.
BETA2/NeuroD1 is a bHLH transcription factor that is expressed during development in the mammalian pancreas and in many locations in the central and peripheral nervous systems. During inner ear ontogenesis, it is present in both sensory ganglion neurons and sensory epithelia. Although studies have shown that BETA2/NeuroD1 is important in the development of the hippocampal dentate gyrus and the cerebellum, its functions in the peripheral nervous system and in particular in the inner ear are unclear. Mice carrying a BETA2/NeuroD1 null mutation exhibit behavioral abnormalities suggestive of an inner ear defect, including lack of responsiveness to sound, hyperactivity, head tilting, and circling. Here we show that these defects can be explained by a severe reduction of sensory neurons in the cochlear-vestibular ganglion (CVG). A developmental study of CVG formation in the null demonstrates that BETA2/NeuroD1 does not play a primary role in the proliferation of neuroblast precursors or in their decision to become neuroblasts. Instead, the reduction in CVG neuron number is caused by a combination both of delayed or defective delamination of CVG neuroblast precursors from the otic vesicle epithelium and of enhanced apoptosis both in the otic epithelium and among those neurons that do delaminate to form the CVG. There are also defects in differentiation and patterning of the cochlear duct and sensory epithelium and loss of the dorsal cochlear nucleus. BETA2/NeuroD1 is, thus, the first gene to be shown to regulate neuronal and sensory cell development in both the cochlear and vestibular systems. (+info)
Spiral ligament pathology: a major aspect of age-related cochlear degeneration in C57BL/6 mice.
Data from systematic, light microscopic examination of cochlear histopathology in an age-graded series of C57BL/6 mice (1.5-15 months) were compared with threshold elevations (measured by auditory brain stem response) to elucidate the functionally important structural changes underlying age-related hearing loss in this inbred strain. In addition to quantifying the degree and extent of hair cell and neuronal loss, all structures of the cochlear duct were qualitatively evaluated and any degenerative changes were quantified. Hair cell and neuronal loss patterns suggested two degenerative processes. In the basal half of the cochlea, inner and outer hair cell loss proceeded from base to apex with increasing age, and loss of cochlear neurons was consistent with degeneration occurring secondary to inner hair cell loss. In the apical half of the cochlea with advancing age, there was selective loss of outer hair cells which increased from the middle to the extreme apex. A similar gradient of ganglion cell loss was noted, characterized by widespread somatic aggregation and demyelination. In addition to these changes in hair cells and their innervation, there was widespread degeneration of fibrocytes in the spiral ligament, especially among the type IV cell class. The cell loss in the ligament preceded the loss of hair cells and/or neurons in both space and time suggesting that fibrocyte pathology may be a primary cause of the hearing loss and ultimate sensory cell degeneration in this mouse strain. (+info)
Transcript profiling of functionally related groups of genes during conditional differentiation of a mammalian cochlear hair cell line.
We have used Affymetrix high-density gene arrays to generate a temporal profile of gene expression during differentiation of UB/OC-1, a conditionally immortal cell line derived from the mouse cochlea. Gene expression was assessed daily for 14 days under differentiating conditions. The experiment was replicated in two separate populations of cells. Profiles for selected genes were correlated with those obtained by RT-PCR, TaqMan analysis, immunoblotting, and immunofluorescence. The results suggest that UB/OC-1 is derived from a population of nonsensory epithelial cells in the greater epithelial ridge that have the potential to differentiate into a hair-cell-like phenotype, without the intervention of Math1. Elements of the Notch signaling cascade were identified, including the receptor Notch3, with a transient up-regulation that suggests a role in hair cell differentiation. Several genes showed a profile similar to Notch3, including the transcriptional co-repressor Groucho1. UB/OC-1 also expressed Me1, a putative partner of Math1 that may confer competence to differentiate into hair cells. Cluster analysis revealed expression profiles for neural guidance genes associated with Gata3. The temporal dimension of this analysis provides a powerful tool to study genetic mechanisms that underlie the conversion of nonsensory epithelial cells into hair cells. (+info)
Forced activation of Wnt signaling alters morphogenesis and sensory organ identity in the chicken inner ear.
Components of the Wnt signaling pathway are expressed in the developing inner ear. To explore their role in ear patterning, we used retroviral gene transfer to force the expression of an activated form of beta-catenin that should constitutively activate targets of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. At embryonic day 9 (E9) and beyond, morphological defects were apparent in the otic capsule and the membranous labyrinth, including ectopic and fused sensory patches. Most notably, the basilar papilla, an auditory organ, contained infected sensory patches with a vestibular phenotype. Vestibular identity was based on: (1) stereociliary bundle morphology; (2) spacing of hair cells and supporting cells; (3) the presence of otoliths; (4) immunolabeling indicative of vestibular supporting cells; and (5) expression of Msx1, a marker of certain vestibular sensory organs. Retrovirus-mediated misexpression of Wnt3a also gave rise to ectopic vestibular patches in the cochlear duct. In situ hybridization revealed that genes for three Frizzled receptors, c-Fz1, c-Fz7, and c-Fz10, are expressed in and adjacent to sensory primordia, while Wnt4 is expressed in adjacent, nonsensory regions of the cochlear duct. We hypothesize that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling specifies otic epithelium as macular and helps to define and maintain sensory/nonsensory boundaries in the cochlear duct. (+info)
Distribution of gentamicin in the guinea pig inner ear after local or systemic application.
Uptake and retention of gentamicin by cells in the guinea pig inner ear after a single peritoneal injection or local application on the round window were investigated using immunocytochemistry to localize the drug. The cells that accumulated the drug under the two conditions were the same, but staining for the drug was more intense and was often accompanied by widespread cochlear degeneration following local application. Soon after drug administration by either route, there was diffuse staining for the drug throughout all tissue within the labyrinth, including bone. At later times when distinct cell staining became evident, virtually all cell types were found to be positive, with several cell types staining more darkly for the drug than hair cells, indicating that hair cells were not the most avid in accumulating gentamicin. The infracuticular portion of auditory and vestibular hair cells as well as type III fibrocytes of the spiral ligament were positively stained in almost all cases and these sites were found to be positive for as long as six months post administration. In animals with loss of the organ of Corti, there was unusually intense staining for gentamicin in root cells of the spiral ligament, in marginal cells of the stria vascularis, and in cells of the spiral limbus. Dark staining of surviving cells in cases with overt tissue destruction suggests that variability in the extent of damage caused by the drug was determined more by the degree of its local uptake than by differences in animals' capacities to metabolize the drug systemically. The present results show that gentamicin may damage or destroy all cochlear cells following a single round window application. The findings broaden the scope of our knowledge of cochlear gentamicin uptake and damage and have implications for treatment of patients with vestibular disorders by infusion of aminoglycosides into the middle ear, as well as implications for prospects of rehabilitating patients that have been deafened by aminoglycosides. (+info)
Changes in cytochemistry of sensory and nonsensory cells in gentamicin-treated cochleas.
Effects of a single local dose of gentamicin upon sensory and nonsensory cells throughout the cochlea were assessed by changes in immunostaining patterns for a broad array of functionally important proteins. Cytochemical changes in hair cells, spiral ganglion cells, and cells of the stria vascularis, spiral ligament, and spiral limbus were found beginning 4 days post administration. The extent of changes in immunostaining varied with survival time and with cell type and was not always commensurate with the degree to which individual cell types accumulated gentamicin. Outer hair cells, types I and II fibrocytes of the spiral ligament, and fibrocytes in the spiral limbus showed marked decreases in immunostaining for a number of constituents. In contrast, inner hair cells, type III fibrocytes and root cells of the spiral ligament, cells of the stria vascularis, and interdental cells in the spiral limbus showed less dramatic decreases, and in some cases they showed increases in immunostaining. Results indicate that, in addition to damaging sensory cells, local application of gentamicin results in widespread and disparate disruptions of a variety of cochlear cell types. Only in the case of ganglion cells was it apparent that the changes in nonsensory cells were secondary to loss or damage of hair cells. These results indicate that malfunction of the ear following gentamicin treatment is widespread and far more complex than simple loss of sensory elements. The results have implications for efforts directed toward detecting, preventing, and treating toxic effects of aminoglycosides upon the inner ear. (+info)
Synchronization of a nonlinear oscillator: processing the cf component of the echo-response signal in the cochlea of the mustached bat.
Cochlear microphonic potential (CM) was recorded from the CF2 region and the sparsely innervated zone (the mustached bat's cochlea fovea) that is specialized for analyzing the Doppler-shifted echoes of the first-harmonic (approximately 61 kHz) of the constant-frequency component of the echolocation call. Temporal analysis of the CM, which is tuned sharply to the 61 kHz cochlear resonance, revealed that at the resonance frequency, and within 1 msec of tone onset, CM is broadly tuned with linear magnitude level functions. CM measured during the ongoing tone and in the ringing after tone offset is 50 dB more sensitive, is sharply tuned, has compressive level functions, and the phase leads onset CM by 90 degrees: an indication that cochlear responses are amplified during maximum basilar membrane velocity. For high-level tones above the resonance frequency, CM appears at tone onset and after tone offset. Measurements indicate that the two oscillators responsible for the cochlear resonance, presumably the basilar and tectorial membranes, move together in phase during the ongoing tone, thereby minimizing net shear between them and hair cell excitation. For tones within 2 kHz of the cochlear resonance the frequency of CM measured within 2 msec of tone onset is not that of the stimulus but is proportional to it. For tones just below the cochlear resonance region CM frequency is a constant amount below that of the stimulus depending on CM measurement delay from tone onset. The frequency responses of the CM recorded from the cochlear fovea can be accounted for through synchronization between the nonlinear oscillators responsible for the cochlear resonance and the stimulus tone. (+info)