The inner ears of birds and mammals contain a fixed number of sensory hair cells. These cells are produced during embryonic development and can be lost later in life as a result of acoustic trauma, treatment with ototoxic drugs, inner ear inflammations, or as part of the aging process. The mature mammalian ear has a very limited ability to replace these receptors, and their loss is a leading cause of hearing and balance disorders. In contrast, the ears of nonmammalian vertebrates possess a remarkable ability to regenerate sensory hair cells. The cellular basis of this regenerative process is poorly understood, but identification of the molecular signals that permit regeneration in the nonmammalian ear may lead to the development of similar strategies to promote hair cell regeneration in humans. This chapter summarizes the current knowledge of the cellular mechanisms of regeneration in the nonmammalian ear and examines the limitations on regeneration in the mammalian ear.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAudition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780123708809
StatePublished - 2008


  • Balance
  • Cochlea
  • Development
  • Hair cell
  • Hearing
  • Proliferation
  • Repair
  • Vestibular


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