Reactivation of the Neurogenic Niche in the Adult Zebrafish Statoacoustic Ganglion Following a Mechanical Lesion

Schwarzer, S., Rekhade, D.R., Machate, A., Spieß, S., Geffarth, M., Ezhkova, D., Hans, S.
Frontiers in cell and developmental biology   10: 850624 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Geffarth, Michaela, Hans, Stefan, Machate, Anja
PNS, inner ear, neuronal stem cells, regeneration, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
35372332 Full text @ Front Cell Dev Biol
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by the loss of sensory hair cells and/or their innervating neurons within the inner ear and affects millions of people worldwide. In mammals, including humans, the underlying cell types are only produced during fetal stages making loss of these cells and the resulting consequences irreversible. In contrast, zebrafish produce sensory hair cells throughout life and additionally possess the remarkable capacity to regenerate them upon lesion. Recently, we showed that also inner ear neurogenesis continues to take place in the zebrafish statoacoustic ganglion (SAG) well into adulthood. The neurogenic niche displays presumptive stem cells, proliferating Neurod-positive progenitors and a high level of neurogenesis at juvenile stages. It turns dormant at adult stages with only a few proliferating presumptive stem cells, no proliferating Neurod-positive progenitors, and very low levels of newborn neurons. Whether the neurogenic niche can be reactivated and whether SAG neurons can regenerate upon damage is unknown. To study the regenerative capacity of the SAG, we established a lesion paradigm using injections into the otic capsule of the right ear. Upon lesion, the number of apoptotic cells increased, and immune cells infiltrated the SAG of the lesioned side. Importantly, the Neurod-positive progenitor cells re-entered the cell cycle displaying a peak in proliferation at 8 days post lesion before they returned to homeostatic levels at 57 days post lesion. In parallel to reactive proliferation, we observed increased neurogenesis from the Neurod-positive progenitor pool. Reactive neurogenesis started at around 4 days post lesion peaking at 8 days post lesion before the neurogenesis rate decreased again to low homeostatic levels at 57 days post lesion. Additionally, administration of the thymidine analog BrdU and, thereby, labeling proliferating cells and their progeny revealed the generation of new sensory neurons within 19 days post lesion. Taken together, we show that the neurogenic niche of the adult zebrafish SAG can indeed be reactivated to re-enter the cell cycle and to increase neurogenesis upon lesion. Studying the underlying genes and pathways in zebrafish will allow comparative studies with mammalian species and might provide valuable insights into developing cures for auditory and vestibular neuropathies.
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