Recent studies using explant cultures have demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of Notch signaling by γ-secretase inhibitors generates supernumerary hair cells in embryonic or neonatal cochleae. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of such pharmacological inhibition on mature auditory epithelia in vivo. Normal adult guinea pig auditory epithelia exhibited weak or no immunoreactivity for Notch1 and Jagged1, whereas ototoxic treatment caused the upregulation of these molecules in damaged auditory epithelia. Local application of a γ-secretase inhibitor in damaged cochleae generated ectopic hair cells in mature auditory epithelia. These findings indicate that pharmacological inhibition of Notch signaling is a possible strategy for hair cell regeneration in adult auditory epithelia.
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