Immune cytokines and dexamethasone influence sensory regeneration in the avian vestibular periphery

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Prior studies have shown that macrophages are recruited to sites of hair cell lesions in the avian inner ear in vitro (Warchol, 1997) and in vivo (Bhave et al., 1998). Although the avian ear has a high capacity for sensory regeneration (Oberholtzer and Corwin, 1997; Stone et al., 1998), the role of macrophages in the regenerative process is uncertain. The present study examined the possible influence of macrophages and immune cytokines on regenerative proliferation in the avian utricle, one of the sensory endorgans of the vestibular system. Utricles from post-hatch chicks were placed in organ culture and hair cell lesions were created by incubation in neomycin. The cultures were then maintained for an additional 24-48 hours in vitro, and some cultures were treated with dexamethasone, which inhibits macrophage activation and cytokine production. Following fixation, resident macrophages were identified by immunoreactivity to CD68. Labeled macrophages were present in all specimens and increased numbers of macrophages were observed following neomycin treatment. Regenerative proliferation in dexamethasone-treated specimens was reduced by about 50%, relative to untreated controls. Additional experiments showed that two macrophage secretory products - TGF-α and TNF-α - enhanced the proliferation of utricular supporting cells. The results are consistent with a role for macrophages in hair cell regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-900
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number10-11
StatePublished - 1999


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