Scanning Electron Microscopic Examination of the Extracellular Matrix in the Decellularized Mouse and Human Cochlea

Peter A. Santi, Robair Aldaya, Alec Brown, Shane Johnson, Tyler Stromback, Sebahattin Cureoglu, Helge Rask-Andersen

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14 Scopus citations


Decellularized tissues have been used to investigate the extracellular matrix (ECM) in a number of different tissues and species. Santi and Johnson JARO 14:3-15 (2013) first described the decellularized inner ear in the mouse, rat, and human using scanning thin-sheet laser imaging microscopy (sTSLIM). The purpose of the present investigation is to examine decellularized cochleas in the mouse and human at higher resolution using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Fresh cochleas were harvested and decellularized using detergent extraction methods. Following decellularization, the ECM of the bone, basilar membrane, spiral limbus, and ligament remained, and all of the cells were removed from the cochlea. A number of similarities and differences in the ECM of the mouse and human were observed. A novel, spirally directed structure was present on the basilar membrane and is located at the border between Hensen and Boettcher cells. These septa-like structures formed a single row in the mouse and multiple rows in the human. The basal lamina of the stria vascularis capillaries was present and appeared thicker in the human compared with the mouse. In the mouse, numerous openings beneath the spiral prominence that previously housed the root processes of the external sulcus cells were observed but in the human there was only a single row of openings. These and other anatomical differences in the ECM between the mouse and human may reflect functional differences and/or be due to aging; however, decellularized cochleas provide a new way to examine the cochlear ECM and reveal new observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Meredith Adams, M.D., for perfusing one of the human cochleas with SDS. Funding was provided to PAS by the NIDCD (RO1DC007588, U24DC011968), the Capita Foundation, and the Lions Hearing Foundation. The authors would like to thank Gail Celio at the University Imaging Centers for excellent assistance with SEM. Additional funding was supported by research of the European Community Research, Human stem cell applications for the treatment of hearing loss. Grant agreement no. 603029. Project acronym: OTOSTEM (HRA).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Association for Research in Otolaryngology.


  • SEM
  • cochlea
  • decellularized
  • human
  • mouse


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