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Insight into how cristae – structures of the inner ear vital for balance are formed

12 May 2022

Balancing Act

We take balancing for granted most of our lives, but there's much more to it than meets the eye – or rather, ear. Our inner ear has three fluid-filled canals that help us sense which way's up or down. Structures called cristae are covered in tiny hairs that sense these angular head movements, but as we age, they don’t function as well, leading to increased chance of falling over. Understanding how these cristae are formed may be able to help slow their degeneration and stop us toppling over. By dissecting cristae in mice, researchers uncovered what cell types are present at each stage of development and where they're found. This video shows a series of slices showing some of the different cells that make up the cristae structure. These include unique support cells (magenta), cells expressing a protein called Sox2 which helps convert support cells into hair cells (white) and cells that connect to our brains (yellow).

Written by Sophie Arthur

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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