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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2000 Oct;109(10 Pt 1):913-20.

Age- and gender-related collagen distribution in human vocal folds.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84113, USA.


The composition of the lamina propria in human vocal folds has been shown to affect vocal performance. Collagen plays a significant role in the biomechanical effects of the lamina propria. Specifically, it lends tensile strength to the rapidly oscillating fold. We obtained from a state medical examiner 38 larynges from men and women in infant, adult, and geriatric age groups. We stained the vocal folds for collagen using a picric acid stain and studied them using an image analysis system. Distributions of collagen were measured from the superficial to deep layers (from epithelium to vocalis muscle) within the lamina propria. The data showed an increase in collagen content from infant to adult stages. Infant folds had about 51% of the collagen found in all adults and in geriatric patients (p < .001). There was no significant difference between adult and geriatric folds (p < .16). There was, however, a gender difference in the amount of collagen in both adult and geriatric specimens. Female adult and geriatric folds had about 59% of the collagen found in male adult and geriatric folds (p < .001). The distribution pattern of collagen showed that most of the collagen was present in the deep layer. From these data we conclude that there are age-related and gender-related differences between male and female infant, adult, and geriatric vocal folds. Stress-strain performance studies need to be correlated with histologic findings to better study the phonetic implications of these findings.

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