Inner Ear Undertakers

Support cells in the inner ear respond differently to two drugs that kill hair cells.

Kerry Grens
Kerry Grens
Sep 1, 2015


CORPSE REMOVAL: An inner ear supporting cell (green) engulfs a dying hair cell (red) in the sensory epithelium of a mouse utricle.ELYSSA MONZACK The paper
E.L. Monzack et al., “Live imaging the phagocytic activity of inner ear supporting cells in response to hair cell death,” Cell Death Differ, doi:10.1038/cdd.2015.48, 2015.

Killer drugs
A number of commonly used medications can cause hearing loss by killing off cochlear hair cells, which translate sound waves into neural activity. To understand how they die, Lisa Cunningham and Elyssa Monzack of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and colleagues turned to the utricle, a vestibular inner-ear structure involved with balance whose hair cells are very similar to those in the cochlea, which are notoriously resistant to culturing when mature.

Body bags
The team developed a method to watch hair cells of whole mouse...