Vestibular Organ Dissection and Whole-Mount Immunolabeling in Mouse

Timothy S. Balmer, Laurence O. Trussell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The vestibular sensory apparatus contained in the inner ear is a marvelous evolutionary adaptation for sensing movement in 3 dimensions and is essential for an animal’s sense of orientation in space, head movement, and balance. Damage to these systems through injury or disease can lead to vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and other disorders that are profoundly debilitating. One challenge in studying vestibular organs is their location within the boney inner ear and their small size, especially in mice, which have become an advantageous mammalian model. This protocol describes the dissection procedure of the five vestibular organs from the inner ear of adult mice, followed by immunohistochemical labeling of a whole mount preparation using antibodies to label endogenous proteins such as calretinin to label Type I hair cells or to amplify genetically expressed fluorescent proteins for confocal microscopic imaging. Using typical lab equipment and reagents, a patient technician, student, or postdoc can learn to dissect and immunolabel mouse vestibular organs to investigate their structure in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4416
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 20 2022


  • Dissection
  • Hair cells
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Inner ear
  • Vestibular
  • Whole mount

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • Plant Science


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