[Frontiers in Bioscience S4, 121-132, January 1, 2012]

Neural crest stem cells and their potential application in a therapy for deafness

Margriet A. Huisman1, Marcelo N. Rivolta2

1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Leiden, The Netherlands, 2Centre for Stem Cell Biology and Department of Biomedical Sciences, Western Bank, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, United Kingdom


1. Abstract
2. Deafness: its social impact and the lack of a curative treatment
3. The neural crest and the otic placode: different structures but similar progeny
3.1. The neural crest
3.2. The otic placode
4. Molecular comparison between neurogenesis in the neural crest and otic placode
4.1. Neural induction from the neural crest
4.2. Sensory neurons from the otic placode
5. Potential sources for Neural Crest Stem Cell isolation
6. Conclusions
7. Acknowledgements
8. References


Neurosensory hearing loss is a common condition that has major social and economic implications. Recent advances in stem cell research and in cochlear implantation are offering renewed hopes to people suffering from damage to the auditory hair cells and their associated neurons. Several putative donor cell types are currently being explored, including embryonic stem cells, different types of adult stem cell and the recently described induced-pluripotent stem cells. In this review, we draw attention to the potential application of neural crest stem cells for the treatment of deafness. This population shares a similar developmental origin with the cells of the otic placode, the molecular machinery controlling their maturation and differentiation is comparable and they can produce related sensory neurons. More importantly, pockets of neural crest stem cells remain in the adult body in regions of relatively easy access, facilitating their use for autologous transplantation and therefore avoiding the need for immunosuppression and the problems of tissue rejection. Their exploration and application to hearing conditions could facilitate the development of a clinically-viable, cell-based