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Cell Tissue Res. 2007 Jun;328(3):453-60. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Immunohistochemical localization of aquaporins in the human inner ear.

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Division of Head and Neck Surgery CHS 62-132, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


We report the immunolocalization of aquaporins (AQPs) 1, 4, and 6 in the human auditory and vestibular endorgans. A rapid protocol was applied to audiovestibular endorgans microdissected from postmortem human temporal bones from six subjects (ages ranging from 75 to 97 years) with no history of audiovestibular disease. Temporal bones were fixed in formalin, and the endorgans were immediately microdissected. Cryostat sections were obtained from audiovestibular endorgans and were subjected to double-immunohistochemical staining with antibodies against AQPs and several cellular markers. In the human cochlea, AQP1 immunoreactivity was localized to the fibrocytes of the spiral ligament and the sub-basilar tympanic cells; AQP4 immunoreactivity was localized to the outer sulcus cells, Hensen's cells, and Claudius' cells; AQP6 immunoreactivity was localized to the apical portion of interdental cells in the spiral limbus. In the vestibular endorgans (macula utriculi and cristae), AQP1 was localized to fibrocytes and blood vessels of the underlying stroma and trabecular perilymphatic tissue; AQP4 immunoreactivity was localized to the basal pole of vestibular supporting cells; AQP6 was localized to the apical portion of vestibular supporting cells. Cochlear and vestibular hair cells and nerve fibers were not immunoreactive for any AQP. Supporting cells were identified with antibodies against glial fibrilar acidic protein. Nerve fibers and terminals were identified with antibodies against neurofilaments and Na(+)K(+)ATPase. The high degree of conservation of AQP expression in the human inner ear suggests that AQPs play a critical role in inner ear water homeostasis.

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