The Round Window Membrane - Gateway to the Cochlea : A Morphological and Electrophysiological study

by Nordang, Leif

Abstract (Summary)
Topical treatment of several inner ear diseases through the round window membrane (RWM) might be feasible in the near future. Bacteria toxins, ototoxic drugs and noise trauma seem to harm the inner ear by a common pathway which involves, excessive outflow of the afferent neurotransmitter glutamate and formation of nitric oxide (NO), which can severely damage cells/nerve endings and lead to cell death.In this study we used 98 Sprague-Dawley rats and seven human temporal bones. Various substances were instilled into the middle ear of the rat, such as Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Exotoxin (PaExoA), gentamicin, NO-inhibitor N-Omega-Nitro-L-Arginine Methyl Ester (L-NAME), and glucocorticoids. The effects of the substances were studied by morphological analysis of RWM and the endolymphatic sac (ES) by light and electron microscopic. Hearing level was measured in the rats by ABR technique. The human temporal bones were studied immunomorphologically to search for glutamate.In the human inner ear, glutamate receptors and glutamine synthetase, were identified. In the rat, we found, following PaExoA exposure, reversible and permanent hearing loss and morphological changes in the RWM. The ES showed increased numbers of macrophages and thickening of the epithelia. When L-NAME was used as an otoprotector from gentamicin ototoxicity a therapeutic effect in the high frequency area was found. Hydrocortisone (but not dexamethasone) exposure of the RWM resulted in membrane thickening, and adjacent to the membrane, inflammatory cells.The importance of the RWM as a portal for toxic substances and topical treatment of inner ear diseases was highlighted in this study. The difficulties of applying drugs in the round window niche were exposed. The results of this study add important knowledge concerning certain mechanisms of inner ear injury and help us to understand possibilities and problems of local treatment of inner ear diseases in patients.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Surgery; Otorhinolaryngology; Otorhinolaryngology; round window membrane; pseudomonas exotoxin; auditory brainstem response; hearing loss; endolymphatic sac; inner ear immunology; glutamate; nitric oxide inhibitor; glucocorticoid.; Otorhinolaryngologi; Oto-Rhino-Laryngology; oto-rhino-laryngologi


Date of Publication:01/01/2002

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