Establishment of Inner Ear Epithelial Cell Culture: Isolation, Growth and Characterization

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Select epithelial regions of the bovine inner ear were established and maintained in cell culture. Marginal cells from the stria vascularis and dark cells from the posterior wall of the utricle were isolated, dissociated and placed in culture medium. Within 24 h, cellular islands of hexagonal-shaped, epithelial-like cells from both the stria vascularis and posterior utricular wall were readily identifiable by inverted light microscopy. Ultrastructural examination of both the cultured stria marginal cells and utricular dark cells revealed that both cell types had numerous microvilli on their apical surfaces and interdigitating infoldings of their basolateral surfaces. Apical tight junctional complexes were present between apposing cells. These findings demonstrate that inner ear bovine epithelial cells can be successfully isolated and maintained in culture, and that such cells retain certain of their in vivo morphological characteristics.