Supporting cells (SCs) of the cochlear (auditory) and vestibular (balance) organs hold promise as a platform for therapeutic regeneration of the sensory hair cells. Prior data have shown proliferative restrictions of adult SCs forced to re-enter the cell cycle. By comparing juvenile and adult SCs in explant cultures, we have here studied how proliferative restrictions are linked with DNA damage signaling. Cyclin D1 overexpression, used to stimulate cell cycle re-entry, triggered higher proliferative activity of juvenile SCs. Phosphorylated form of histone H2AX (γH2AX) and p53 binding protein 1 (53BP1) were induced in a foci-like pattern in SCs of both ages as an indication of DNA double-strand break formation and activated DNA damage response. Compared to juvenile SCs, γH2AX and the repair protein Rad51 were resolved with slower kinetics in adult SCs, accompanied by increased apoptosis. Consistent with the in vitro data, in a Rb mutant mouse model in vivo, cell cycle re-entry of SCs was associated with γH2AX foci induction. In contrast to cell cycle reactivation, pharmacological stimulation of SC-to-hair-cell transdifferentiation in vitro did not trigger γH2AX. Thus, DNA damage and its prolonged resolution are critical barriers in the efforts to stimulate proliferation of the adult inner ear SCs.