Human endolymphatic sac: Morphologic evidence of immunologic function

Hang T. Bui, Ulla Friberg, Phillip A. Wackym, Fred H. Linthicum, Florence Hofman, Dan Bagger-Sjöbäck, Helge Rask-Andersen

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The ultrastructure of ten normal human endolymphatic sacs (ES), fixed immediately after death and obtained at autopsy, was observed by transmission electron microscopy. The roles of the epithelium, subepithelial space, vasculature, and ES leukocytes were morphologically studied to evaluate possible immunologic functions of the human ES. In addition, five intraosseous ES biopsies from patients undergoing translabyrinthine acoustic neuroma resection were studied using the immunoperoxidase technique to identify specific leukocyte subpopulations. Evidence of phagocytic activity included the presence of phagocytic epithelial cells, monocytes, macrophages, and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Immune surveillance was suggested by intraepithelial and subepithelial T-lymphocytes, numerous fenestrated blood vessels, and the presence of a homogeneously staining substance within the lumina of ES epithelial tubules. No B-lymphocytes were found. The findings support the existence of a local immune system of the normal human inner ear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-281
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


  • endolymphatic sac
  • immunology
  • inner ear
  • Meniere's disease
  • phagocytosis


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