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Kölliker’s organ is a temporary but indispensable structure in the development of the cochlea. Supporting cells (SCs) within it release adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), which may play a crucial role in cochlear development before the onset of hearing. To reveal the apoptosis of Kölliker’s organ in new-born rats, we studied the morphological changes and expression of apoptosis-related factors during early postnatal development. We found SCs in Kölliker’s s organ decreased in number and changed in appearance along the cochlea apex-to-base gradient, and the expression of caspase-3, caspase-8, caspase-9 and bcl-2 in Kölliker’s organ of the cochlea fluctuated along the course of postnatal development, with an expression peak at postnatal day 3. This study demonstrates a time-dependent degeneration of Kölliker’s organ during postnatal cochlea development, which might be triggered by endogenous factors.Â
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