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Keywords:

  • bird;
  • auditory;
  • cochlea;
  • basilar papilla;
  • supporting cells

Abstract

The sense organ for hearing in birds, the basilar papilla, is capable of replacing lost or damaged hair cells and supporting cells through regeneration. Potential candidates for precursor-cell populations include cells within the auditory receptor epithelium and nonsensory cells inferior to the sensory epithelium. Ultrastructural characteristics of hyaline cells, border cells, and vacuole cells, nonsensory cells which border or lie inferior to the receptor epithelium proper, were studied with transmission electron microscopy. Data were obtained from normal neonatal and adult chickens.

Several rows of epithelial cells separate hyaline cells from inferiorly located organ supporting cells and hair cells. Ultrastructural characteristics and location of these epithelial cells differentiate them from organ supporting cells and hyaline cells; consequently, we have termed them „border cells”. Synaptic specializations are observed between neural elements and border cells, and gap junctions are found between adjacent border cells, between border cells and neighboring organ supporting cells, and between juxtaposed border and hyaline cells.

Hyaline cells, in contrast to border cells, are highly specialized. Dense bundles of filaments are present in hyaline cells from the basal one-half of the papilla, and an unusual structure, a rough tubular aggregate, is present in hyaline-cell cytoplasm. Pre- and postsynaptic specializations are observed between neural elements and hyaline cells, and gap-junctional complexes link neighboring hyaline cells.

Vacuole cells lie inferior to the hyaline cells and rest on the inferior fibrocartilaginous plate. They are unspecialized morphologically. Their only remarkable morphological feature is the abundance of spherical vacuoles within their cytoplasmic matrix.