Immunohistochemistry allows for quantitative assessment of hair cells and ribbon synapses.
Hair cells are delicate ciliated cells in the cochlea that convert mechanical sound waves into electric signals. These cells and the specialized connections they make to the auditory nerve (called ribbon synapses) are among the most fragile structures in the entire auditory pathway. A cytocochleogram typically uses immunohistochemical methods to stain for hair cell specific proteins and allows for careful counting of hair cells that are present or that have died or appear to be sick as a result of noise, chemical, or drug exposure.
Similar methods are used to count synapticc connections between inner hair cells and the auditory nerve, which can be damage from various exposures.
The analysis of cytocochleograms and ribbon synapse counts are specialized processes that require unique training and experience. Dr. Brandon Cox has been performing cytocochleogram and ribbon synapse analyses for over ten years and is a long-time consultant for Turner Scientific. Dr. Cox works directly with Turner Scientific’s staff to train them on whole mount microdissections as well as immunohistoemistry.