Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Fine structure of the sensory epithelium of guinea-pig organ of Corti: Subsurface cisternae and lamellar bodies in the outer hair cells

  • 114 Accesses

  • 94 Citations


The fine structure of subsurface cisternae and lamellar bodies in the outer hair cells of the guinea-pig organ of Corti was studied with thin sections and freeze-fracture replicas.

Subsurface cisternae in the outer hair cells consist of multilayers along the lateral plasma membrane of the cell. The outermost layer is a flattened cistern in the upper part of the supranuclear region, but comprises a series of tubules in the lower part. Deeper layers are fenesrated cisternae in which disc-like areas are found in the upper part of the supranuclear region. Lamellar bodies consist of concentric layers of fenestrated cisternae and are located in the apical cytoplasm beneath the cuticular plate. They are continuous with the subsurface cisternae.

In the supranuclear cytoplasm, bulges of the subsurface cisternae and the lamellar bodies are found. Dilated cisternae are also present. Some dilated cisternae contain many small vesicles, which display acid phosphatase activity. The dilated cisternae are considered as forms of the bulges undergoing transformation into multivesicular bodies. The possible role of the lamellar bodies, and the origin and fate of the subsurface cisternae are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ades HW, Engström H (1974) Anatomy of the inner ear. In: Keidel WD, Neff WD (eds) Handbook of sensory physiology, vol. V. Auditory system. Springer, Berlin, p 125

  2. Davis H (1965) A model for transducer action in the cochlea. Cold Spring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Bilogy. 30:181–190

  3. Engström H (1967a) The morphology of the normal sensory cells. Acta Otolaryngol (Suppl) 63:5–19

  4. Engström H (1967b) The ultrastructure of the sensory cells of the cochlea. J Laryngol Otol 81:687–715

  5. Engström H, Sjöstrand FS (1954) The structure and innervation of the cochlear hair cells. Acta Otolaryngol 44:490–501

  6. Engström H, Wersäll J (1953) Structure of the organ of Corti I. Outer hair cells. Acta Otolaryngol 43:1–10

  7. Engström H, Wersäll J (1958) The ultrastructural organization of the organ of Corti and the vestibular sensory epithelia. Exp Cell Res Suppl 5:460–492

  8. Fisher SK, Goldman K (1975) Subsurface cisterns in the vertebrate retina. Cell Tissue Res 164:473–480

  9. Gulley RL, Reese TS (1977) Freeze-fracture studies on the synapse in the organ of Corti. J Comp Neurol 171:517–544

  10. Hartman JF (1966) Ultrastructural relationship of neuronal cytoplasmic membranes. Med Biol Illus 16:109–113

  11. Henkart M, Landis DHD, Reese TS (1976) Similarity of junctions between plasma membranes and endoplasmic reticulum in muscle and neurons. J Cell Biol 70:338–347

  12. Herndon RM (1963) The fine structure of the Purkinje cell. J Cell Biol 18:167–180

  13. Hervás J-P, Lafarga M (1979) Subsurface cisterns in paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus of the rat. Cell Tissue Res 199:271–279

  14. Honrubia V, Strelioff D, Sitko ST (1976) Physiological basis of cochlear transduction and sensitivity. Ann Otol 85:697–710

  15. Ishii T, Balogh K Jr (1966) Acid phosphatase activity in the inner ear. Acta Otolaryngol 62:185–192

  16. Ishii T, Murakami Y, Kimura RS, Balogh K Jr (1967) Electron microscopical and histochemical identification of lipofuscin in the human inner ear. Acta Otolaryngol 64:17–29

  17. Iurato S (1961) Submicroscopic structure of the membranous labyrinth 2. The epithelium of Corti's organ. Z Zellforsch 53:259–298

  18. Iurato S (1967) 3. Organ of Corti. In: Iurato S (ed) Submicroscopic structure of the inner ear. Pergamon Press, Oxford, p 80

  19. Jahnke K (1976) The fine structure of freeze-fractured intercellular junctions in the guinea pig inner ear. Acta Otolaryngol (Suppl) 336:5–40

  20. Kimura RS (1975) The ultrastructure of the organ of Corti. Int Rev Cytol 42:173–222

  21. Kimura RS, Schuknecht HF, Sando I (1964) Fine morphology of the sensory cells in the organ of Corti of man. Acta Otolaryngol 58:390–408

  22. Kolde G, Themann H (1982) Subsurface cisterns and lamellar bodies in the granule cells of the guinea-pig fascia dentata. Cell Tissue Res 223:455–461

  23. Le Beux YJ (1972) Subsurface cisterns and lamellar bodies: Particular forms of the endoplasmic reticulum in the neurons. Z Zellforsch 133:327–352

  24. Lubitz DKJE von (1981) Subsurface tubular system in the outer sensory cells of the rat cochlea. Cell Tissue Res 220:787–795

  25. Peters A, Palay SL, Webster H (1976) The fine structure of the nervous system. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, London, p 11

  26. Rodríguez-Echandía EL (1967) An electron microscopic study on the cochlear innervation I. The receptor-neural junctions at the outer hair cells. Z Zellforsch 78:30–46

  27. Rosenbluth J (1962) Subsurface cisterns and their relationship to the neuronal plasma membrane. J Cell Biol 13:405–421

  28. Saito K (1980) Fine structure of the sensory epithelium of the guinea pig organ of Corti: Afferent and efferent synapses of hair cells. J Ultrastruct Res 71:222–232

  29. Siegesmund KA (1968) The fine structure of subsurface cisterns. Anat Rec 162:187–196

  30. Smith CA (1968) Electron microscopy of the inner ear. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 77:629–643

  31. Smith CA, Dempsey EW (1957) Electron microscopy of the organ of Corti. Am J Anat 100:337–367

  32. Sotelo C, Palay SL (1968) The fine structure of lateral vestibular nucleus in the rat. I. Neurons and neuroglia cells. J Cell Biol 36:151–179

  33. Spoendlin H (1960) Submikroskopische Strukturen im Cortischen Organ der Katze. Acta Otolaryngol 52:111–130

  34. Spoendlin H (1966) The organization of the cochlear receptor In: Ruedi L (ed) Advances in Oto-Rhino-Laryngology vol. 13. Basel, Karger, New York p 1

  35. Spoerri PE, Glees P (1978) Annulate lamellae, lamellar bodies and subsurface cisternae in neurons of the avian hyperstriatum accessorium. Cell Tissue Res 193:423–432

  36. Takahashi K, Wood RL (1970) Subsurface cistern in the Purkinje cells of cerebellum of Syrian hamster. Z Zellforsch 110:311–320

  37. Thorn L (1975) Die Entwicklung des Cortischen Organs beim Meerschweinchen In: Brodal A, Hild W. Limborgh J, Ortmann R, Schiebler TH, Töndury G, Wolff E (eds) Advances in anatomy embryology and cell biology, vol. 51. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg, p 1

  38. Voss Ch, Schiller A, Taugner R (1980) Morphology and distribution of the synapses to the spinal motoneuron of the frog. With special reference to the subsurface cisterns. Cell Tissue Res 213:253–271

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr. Kogaku Saito.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Saito, K. Fine structure of the sensory epithelium of guinea-pig organ of Corti: Subsurface cisternae and lamellar bodies in the outer hair cells. Cell Tissue Res. 229, 467–481 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00207692

Download citation

Key words

  • Subsurface cisternae
  • Lamellar bodies
  • Outer hair cells
  • Organ of Corti (guinea pig)