Adult human nasal mesenchymal-like stem cells restore cochlear spiral ganglion neurons after experimental lesion

Esperanza Bas, Thomas R. Van De Water, Vicente Lumbreras, Suhrud Rajguru, Garrett Goss, Joshua M. Hare, Bradley J. Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


A loss of sensory hair cells or spiral ganglion neurons from the inner ear causes deafness, affecting millions of people. Currently, there is no effective therapy to repair the inner ear sensory structures in humans. Cochlear implantation can restore input, but only if auditory neurons remain intact. Efforts to develop stem cell-based treatments for deafness have demonstrated progress, most notably utilizing embryonic-derived cells. In an effort to bypass limitations of embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells that may impede the translation to clinical applications, we sought to utilize an alternative cell source. Here, we show that adult human mesenchymal-like stem cells (MSCs) obtained from nasal tissue can repair spiral ganglion loss in experimentally lesioned cochlear cultures from neonatal rats. Stem cells engraft into gentamicin-lesioned organotypic cultures and orchestrate the restoration of the spiral ganglion neuronal population, involving both direct neuronal differentiation and secondary effects on endogenous cells. As a physiologic assay, nasal MSC-derived cells engrafted into lesioned spiral ganglia demonstrate responses to infrared laser stimulus that are consistent with those typical of excitable cells. The addition of a pharmacologic activator of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway concurrent with stem cell treatment promoted robust neuronal differentiation. The availability of an effective adult autologous cell source for inner ear tissue repair should contribute to efforts to translate cell-based strategies to the clinic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-514
Number of pages13
JournalStem Cells and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Hematology


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