Scanning Microscopy


Exposure to intense sound produces a well-defined "patch" lesion on the chick basilar papilla in which 30-35% of the short hair cells are lost. The present study compares various aspects of sensory hair bundle morphology on surviving hair cells in the patch lesion with hair bundles from matched locations on nonexposed control papilla immediately after removal from the exposure and 12-days post exposure. The height and thickness of the hairs, the total number of hairs in the bundle, the width of the bundle, and the area and perimeter of the apical surface of the hair cell were quantified from scanning electron microscope photomicrographs. An attempt was also made to determine if there was a consistent microstructure to the pattern of hair cell loss within the lesion area. Similar observations in 12-day recovered ears are also presented.

The results indicated that stereocilia height increased and width decreased on surviving hair cells in the exposed ear. The width of the hair bundle, the hair cell surface area, and perimeter also decreased. However, the number of hairs per cell remained unchanged, and there was no evidence of any consistent organization to the hair cell loss within the patch across a number of specimens. These observations indicated that the hair bundles on short hair cells underwent changes as a consequence of intense sound exposure.The results after 12 days of recovery were complicated by developmental changes on the papilla and incomplete maturation of the newly regenerated hair cells. It remains to be seen whether these changes were the result of cell sampling in the sound-damaged ear or were due to true structural alterations within the sensory hairs themselves.

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