Computer-aided three-dimensional reconstruction and morphometry of the outer hair cells of the guinea pig cochlea

Acta Otolaryngol. 1988 Jan-Feb;105(1-2):64-74. doi: 10.3109/00016488809119447.


The outer hair cells and their nerve endings in the basal and third turns of the guinea pig cochlea were reconstructed three-dimensionally from serial thin sections by means of computer graphics, and morphometric data were obtained. The number of nerve endings in the third turn was two to three times greater than that in the basal turn. Many afferent and efferent terminals in the third turn did not demonstrate synaptic specialization. Presynaptic dense bodies were missing in the majority of outer hair cells in both basal and third turns. The morphologic arrangement of the subsurface cisternae and efferent fiber synapses on the side and base of the outer hair cells suggests a close functional relationship. The nerve fibers and cisternae may be involved in the contractile process of the cells. The volume of the outer hair cells in the first row of the basal turn was about 656 micron 3, and third turn, 1358 micron 3. The total count of mitochondria in the outer hair cells of the first row in the basal turn was 1425, and 1963 in the third turn. The density of mitochondria in the sensory cell in the basal turn was higher. The highest density was seen in the infranuclear region. The mitochondrial distribution patterns suggest that metabolic activity of the outer hair cells is higher in the basal turn than in the third turn and the energy requirement is greatest in the region close to nerve endings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Graphics*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Nerve Endings / cytology
  • Synapses / cytology