Understanding more about the crista ampullaris – structures of the inner ear involved in balance
Every step you take is a balancing act, one you don’t have to calculate thanks to your inner ear, which contains structures called crista ampullaris that sense the movements of your head. When damaged through disease or ageing, balance problems develop. Researchers seek to understand how crista work by performing the first single-cell analysis of the genes activated in their cells using embryonic mice. They identified new cell types, new cell markers and catalogued developmental changes. This included identifying distinct types of mesenchymal cells — cells that act as packing to support the crista — based on the genes activated in them. These cells populated three distinct regions around the crista as revealed using fluorescent microscopy (pictured) with two areas of dense mesenchyme sandwiching a region of loose mesenchyme where endothelial cells (vessel-lining cells; green) and some macrophages (immune cells; blue) reside. This brings us closer to understanding crista in health and disease.
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