Morphologic effects of glycerol and urea on cochlear tissues of the chinchilla

C. G. Wright, W. L. Meyerhoff, D. H. Lee, P. S. Roland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Glycerol and urea are used as test agents in confirming the diagnosis of endolymphatic hydrops. Although both substances act as osmotic diuretics, recent evidence suggests that they may have differing physiologic effects on the inner ear. This study was designed to compare the morphologic effects of urea and glycerol on cochlear tissues, using the chinchilla as an experimental model. Animals were given subcutaneous injections of glycerol (2 g/kg) or urea (1.2 g/kg) over periods of 3 hours, 4 days, or 1 week. Both agents were found to produce ultrastructural changes, including spiral ligament vacuolization, intracellular alterations of the stria vascularis, and increased numbers of Hensen's bodies in outer hair cells. These alterations appeared indicative of metabolic stress, but not toxicity. The morphologic findings provided no evidence that glycerol and urea affect the inner ear by fundamentally different mechanisms of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988


  • Meniere's disease
  • cochlear morphology
  • glycerol
  • urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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