Alterations of inner ear morphology in experimental hypercholesterolemia

Michael Anne Gratton, Charles G. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Previous clinical and experimental studies have indicated that auditory funnction may be compromised by hypercholesterolemia. In this investigation, inner ear tissue from chinchillas maintained on a cholesterol-supplemented diet for 3 months was examined for morphological alterations which might underlie the physiological changes observed with this condition in earlier studies. Ultrastructural analysis of cochleas from 16 hypercholesterolemic chinchillas revealed alterations in both the stria vascularis and outer hair cells. Strial marginal cells throughout the cochlea and outer hair cells of the apical turn, contained electron-lucent patches of an amorphous material. These patches had the morphological characteristics and histochemical properties of glycogen. Mild extracellular edema and increased numbers of lysosomes were also noted in the stria vascularis of experimental animals. These alterations suggest that chronic hypercholesterolemia metabolically stresses inner ear tissue. It is hypothesized that such changes could increase susceptibility of the cochlea to ototraumatic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1992


  • Chinchilla
  • Cochlea
  • Glycogen
  • Outer hair cells
  • Stria vascularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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