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J Voice. 1997 Mar;11(1):59-66.

The intermediate layer: a morphologic study of the elastin and hyaluronic acid constituents of normal human vocal folds.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, USA.


The lamina propria of vocal folds are important in voice production. We evaluated the morphologic features of elastin and hyaluronic acid, two important constituents of the lamina propria. Thirty normal human vocal folds were obtained from patients dying of traumatic causes without vocal fold injury. These tissues were immediately prepared for histologic and ultrastructural examination by standard methods. For specific study of the ultrastructure of the layers of the lamina propria, six vocal folds were divided horizontally through the midplane of the lamina propria. We found that the elastin composition of the vocal folds is variable, the largest amount being seen in the midportion on elastin-van Gieson (EVG) staining and ultrastructural evaluation. The superficial layer of the lamina propria contains fewer large elastin fibers. In this region, we found that elastin was predominantly composed of elaunin and oxytalan, which stain poorly with EVG. Using computer-assisted image analysis, we quantified the differences in elastin composition between the layers. The amount of elastin varied between men and women, and these differences could not be accurately measured by the methods employed. Hyaluronic acid was abundant especially in the midportion of the lamina propria and was significantly more abundant in men than women on quantification. The significance of these observations in normal vocal folds is discussed.

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