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Neuroimage. 2000 Sep;12(3):307-13.

Perilymphatic fluid compartments and intercellular spaces of the inner ear and the organ of Corti.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience & Institute for Hearing and Communication Research, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, S-171 76, Sweden.


An in vitro preparation of the inner ear cochlea has been used to visualize the structural relationships of unfixed, living sensory cells and structural components within the intact hearing organ. By perfusing perilymphatic compartments of the cochlea with fluorochrome-conjugated dextran, the extracellular spaces were clearly outlined. The staining pattern illustrated the large fluid compartments formed by the tunnel of Corti, the space of Nuel, and the outer tunnel. The dextran solution also indicated the spaces between the outer hair cell rows, the inner hair cells, and the surrounding supporting cells. The staining pattern demonstrates that the organ of Corti has a loose structure, suggesting a weak mechanical coupling between the cells. Moreover, it is evident that substances applied to the perilymph (e.g., therapeutic drugs) will readily reach all the cells of the hearing organ. In addition to the intraorgan fluid compartments, the spiral limbus was shown to contain significant volumes of perilymph within the intercellular spaces forming the so-called teeth of Huschke between the interdental cells. An extensive system of bundles following the teeth of Huschke was shown to be completely immersed in perilymph. The bundles were stained by a potentiometric dye, which in the inner ear primarily stains nerve fibers and sensory cells, which may indicate a nervous control of cells in this region.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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