Hydrostatic pressure effects on vestibular hair cell afferents in fish and crustacea

P J Fraser, S F Cruikshank, Richard L. Shelmerdine

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19 Citations (Scopus)
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Following the discovery of a hydrostatic pressure sensor with no associated gas phase in the crab, and the knowledge that several systems of cells in culture show long term alterations to small changes in hydrostatic pressure, we show here that vestibular type II hair cells in a well known model system (the isolated elasmobranch labyrinth), are sensitive to hydrostatic pressure. This new finding for the vertebrate vestibular system may provide an explanation for low levels of resting activity in vertebrate hair cells and explain how fish without swim bladders sense hydrostatic cues. It could have implications for humans using their balancing systems in hypobaric or hyperbaric environments such as in aircraft or during space exploration. Although lacking the piston mechanism thought to operate in crab thread hairs which sense angular acceleration and hydrostatic pressure, the vertebrate system may use larger numbers of sensory cells with resultant improvement in signal to noise ratio. The main properties of the crab hydrostatic pressure sensing system are briefly reviewed and new experimental work on the isolated elasmobranch labyrinth is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-242
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vestibular Research-Equilibrium & Orientation
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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