Spiral ganglion stem cells can be propagated and differentiated into neurons and glia

Biores Open Access. 2014 Jun 1;3(3):88-97. doi: 10.1089/biores.2014.0016.


The spiral ganglion is an essential functional component of the peripheral auditory system. Most types of hearing loss are associated with spiral ganglion cell degeneration which is irreversible due to the inner ear's lack of regenerative capacity. Recent studies revealed the existence of stem cells in the postnatal spiral ganglion, which gives rise to the hope that these cells might be useful for regenerative inner ear therapies. Here, we provide an in-depth analysis of sphere-forming stem cells isolated from the spiral ganglion of postnatal mice. We show that spiral ganglion spheres have characteristics similar to neurospheres isolated from the brain. Importantly, spiral ganglion sphere cells maintain their major stem cell characteristics after repeated propagation, which enables the culture of spheres for an extended period of time. In this work, we also demonstrate that differentiated sphere-derived cell populations not only adopt the immunophenotype of mature spiral ganglion cells but also develop distinct ultrastructural features of neurons and glial cells. Thus, our work provides further evidence that self-renewing spiral ganglion stem cells might serve as a promising source for the regeneration of lost auditory neurons.