Electrostatic interaction between stereocilia: I. Its role in supporting the structure of the hair bundle

Sergei G. Dolgobrodov, Andrei N. Lukashkin, Ian J. Russell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper provides theoretical estimates for the forces of electrostatic interaction between adjacent stereocilia in auditory and vestibular hair cells. Estimates are given for parameters within the measured physiological range using constraints appropriate for the known geometry of the hair bundle. Stereocilia are assumed to possess an extended, negatively charged surface coat, the glycocalyx. Different charge distribution profiles within the glycocalyx are analysed. It is shown that charged glycocalices on the apical surface of the hair cells can support spatial separation between adjacent stereocilia in the hair bundles through electrostatic repulsion between stereocilia. The charge density profile within the glycocalyx is a crucial parameter. In fact, attraction instead of repulsion between adjacent stereocilia will be observed if the charge of the glycocalyx is concentrated near the membrane of the stereocilia, thereby making this type of charge distribution unlikely. The forces of electrostatic interaction between stereocilia may influence the mechanical properties of the hair bundle and, being strongly non-linear, contribute to the non-linear phenomena that have been recorded from the periphery of the auditory and vestibular systems. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-93
    Number of pages11
    JournalHearing Research
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2000


    • Cochlear non-linearity
    • Electrostatic interaction
    • Glycocalyx
    • Hair cell


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