It is generally assumed that hair-cell numbers do not increase in the vestibular epithelia of postembryonic birds after hatching. However, for the domestic chicken, it is not known when or if hair-cell numbers ever reach a steady state level during life. The numbers of hair cells in the utricular maculae of chickens from embryonic day (E) 7 to posthatch day (PH) 112 were therefore counted directly. Hair-cell numbers increase ~ 15 fold between E7 and PH2, from an average of 1,858/macula at E7 to 27,017 at PH2. Between PH2 and PH112 hair-cell numbers increase by a further 36%, to 36,650/macula. A mathematical description of the increase in hair-cell numbers observed with time predicts a half life of 29.88 days for a utricular hair cell and a steady-state turnover value of 850 hair cells/day by ~ PH60. The patterns of hair and supporting cells in the postembryonic utricular macula were also assessed. The ratios of supporting cells and hair cells, the average number of supporting cells around each hair cell, and the average number of hair cells each supporting cell contacts at PH2, PH16 and ~ 2.5 years of age are not significantly different. In contrast to the mitotically quiescent basilar papilla where all supporting cells contact at least one hair cell, 7.6% of supporting cells in the extrastriolar region of the postembryonic utricular macula do not make apical contact with a hair cell. These results indicate that hair-cell numbers in the utricular macula increase significantly after hatching, and support the concept that contact-mediated inhibition influences the proliferative potential of inner-ear supporting cells.
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Journal of Neurocytology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Dec 1999|