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Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 1993;250(2):73-7.

Structure and composition of stereocilia cross-links in normal and hydropic cochleas of the guinea pig.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospital, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Structure and composition of stereocilia cross-links were investigated cytochemically in normal and hydropic cochleas of the guinea pig. The electron-dense markers colloidal thorium and cationized ferritin were used for visualization. Side links as well as tip links were visualized using both markers. Cationized ferritin allowed a better visualization of the delicate cross-link substructure than did colloidal thorium. Following digestion with neuraminidase, cross-link reactivity for colloidal thorium was virtually abolished. However, the basic structure of the cross-links could still be observed as a result of routine post-fixation and contrast staining. In both 3- and 6-month hydropic cochleas glycocalyx reactivity of the stereocilia appeared to be unaltered, provided that stereocilia were still present. However, loss of cross-links of the outer hair cells - resulting in disarrangement of the stereociliary bundles - was observed in hydropic cochleas. Our results suggest that cross-links are a separate morphological and cytochemical entity, which is different from the glycocalyx. Furthermore, loss of stereocilia cross-links, with concomitant disarrangement of the outer hair cell stereociliary bundle, appears to be one of the early pathological features of surgically induced endolymphatic hydrops, which might be responsible for permanent sensorineural hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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