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Development of the hair cells of the human cochlea: A scanning electron microscopic study

1 Department of Anatomy, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Sabita Mishra,
Director Professor, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JMAU.JMAU_107_20

Introduction: In the mammalian auditory system, the cochlea is the first to attain structural and functional maturity. Although ultrastructural details of the developing cochlea of lower animals have been elucidated in the last few decades, comprehensive studies on human cochlea are lacking. Materials and Methods: In the present investigation we studied the development and maturation of the hair cells of ten human fetal cochlea from gestational weeks (GW) 12 to 37 by scanning electron microscopy. Result: We observed undifferentiated hair cells possessing numerous surface projections and long kinocilium during GW 14. At GW16, the primitive hair cells were arranged in one inner and four outer rows and had globular apices indicating the initiation of stereocilia formation. By GW 22, the globular apices were replaced by linear stereocilia and occasional kinocillia. Mature hair cells with sterocilia were observed in the basal turn at 30th week of gestation. At GW 37, the stereocilia were arranged in a typical “V” shaped pattern at the middle and apical coil, while the stereocilia of the basal turn were shorter in length resembling the adult cochlea. The inner hair cells were long and slender while outer hair cells were pear shaped, kinocilium were absent and the tunnel of Corti were well formed. Conclusion: It is concluded that in human, the morphological maturation of the hair cells starts in the basal turn around GW 22 and continues till 37th week in the apical turn indicating that early maturation of the cochlea may have a role on development of the higher auditory pathway connections.

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