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Developmental aspects of the tympanic membrane: shedding light on function and disease

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23348
JournalGENESIS
Early online date25 Nov 2019
DOIs
Accepted/In press14 Nov 2019
E-pub ahead of print25 Nov 2019

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King's Authors

Abstract

The ear drum, or tympanic membrane (TM), is a key component in the intricate relay that transmits air-borne sound to our fluid-filled inner ear. Despite early belief that the mammalian ear drum evolved as a transformation of a reptilian drum, newer fossil data suggests a parallel and independent evolution of this structure in mammals. The term “drum” belies what is in fact a complex three-dimensional structure formed from multiple embryonic cell lineages. Intriguingly, disease affects the ear drum differently in its different parts, with the superior and posterior parts being much more frequently affected. This suggests a key role for the developmental details of TM formation in its final form and function, both in homeostasis and regeneration. Here we review recent studies in rodent models and humans that are beginning to address large knowledge gaps in TM cell dynamics from a developmental biologist's point of view. We outline the biological and clinical uncertainties that remain, with a view to guiding the indispensable contribution that developmental biology will be able to make to better understanding the TM.

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