Structural and functional diversity of mitochondria in vestibular/cochlear hair cells and vestibular calyx afferents

Hear Res. 2022 Dec:426:108612. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2022.108612. Epub 2022 Sep 20.


Mitochondria supply energy in the form of ATP to drive a plethora of cellular processes. In heart and liver cells, mitochondria occupy over 20% of the cellular volume and the major need for ATP is easily identifiable - i.e., to drive cross-bridge recycling in cardiac cells or biosynthetic machinery in liver cells. In vestibular and cochlear hair cells the overall cellular mitochondrial volume is much less, and mitochondria structure varies dramatically in different regions of the cell. The regional demands for ATP and cellular forces that govern mitochondrial structure and localization are not well understood. Below we review our current understanding of the heterogeneity of form and function in hair cell mitochondria. A particular focus of this review will be on regional specialization in vestibular hair cells, where large mitochondria are found beneath the cuticular plate in close association with the striated organelle. Recent findings on the role of mitochondria in hair cell death and aging are covered along with potential therapeutic approaches. Potential avenues for future research are discussed, including the need for integrated computational modeling of mitochondrial function in hair cells and the vestibular afferent calyx.

Keywords: Computational modeling; Crista ampullaris; Electron tomography; Mitochondrial DNA; Mitochondrial structure; Utricular and saccular macula.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Hair Cells, Auditory
  • Hair Cells, Vestibular* / physiology
  • Mitochondria
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth*


  • Adenosine Triphosphate