A method has been developed that allows successful maintenance of secondary cell cultures derived from explants of the cochlear lateral wall of young adult gerbils. The secondary cultures were characterized morphologically with light and transmission electron microscopy and immunocytochemically with protein markers specific to various lateral wall cell types. Structural studies revealed fusiform-shaped cells with a paucity of cytoplasm surrounding the nucleus and slender processes. The cells showed little evidence of intercellular contact even when confluent. The cultures were immunopositive for vimentin, carbonic anhydrase isozyme II, creatine kinase isozyme BB and smooth endoplasmic reticulum Ca-ATPase, but lacked reactivity for cytokeratins and Na,K-ATPase. The results indicate that the cultures are comprised of type I fibrocytes from the spiral ligament. These findings are the first to demonstrate that inner ear spiral ligament cells can be isolated and maintained in secondary culture while retaining many of their in vivo characteristics. Based upon their location and content of ion transport enzymes, type I fibrocytes are thought to be involved in the recycling of potassium from perilymph into the stria vascularis. The establishment of this cell line provides a means to analyze the role of spiral ligament fibrocytes in maintenance of inner ear homeostasis.
- lateral wall
- spiral ligament