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Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural investigation of the human vestibular dark cell area: Roles of subepithelial capillaries and T lymphocyte-melanophage interaction in an immune surveillance system

, : Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural investigation of the human vestibular dark cell area: Roles of subepithelial capillaries and T lymphocyte-melanophage interaction in an immune surveillance system. Anatomical Record 249(2): 153-162

Background: The aim of the present study was to morphologically characterize the structure of the subepithelial blood vessels in the dark cell area of the human vestibular organs, and to determine whether immunocompetent cells such as macrophages and lymphocytes could be found around these small blood vessels. Materials and Methods: All 31 surgical specimens (semicircular canals and utricles) were obtained from patients with vestibular schwannoma. Formalin fixed specimens were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H and E), and with antibodies to von Willebrand Factor (vWF), leukocyte common antigen (LCA), and UCHL-1, and were examined with light microscope. Specimens fixed with glutaraldehyde were examined with a transmission electron microscope (TEM). Observations. Subepithelial blood vessels stained positive for vWF. By TEM observation, these blood vessels were observed to be capillaries that consisted of non-fenestrated endothelium, occasional pericytes, and a basement membrane. They were usually accompanied by melanophages with a number of secondary lysosomes containing phagocytosed degraded melanosomes and lipid droplets. Moreover, melanocytes and their cell processes directly surrounded these subepithelial capillaries. The fact that cells which were positively stained with LCA and UCHL-1 were present both in the intra- and subepithelial layer of the specimens, and that by TEM the intra- and subepithelial mononuclear cells with a lymphoid appearance had clustered dense bodies in their cytoplasm, suggested that they were a population of T lymphocytes. Conclusions: Results suggested the possibility of a T lymphocyte-melanophage (macrophage) interaction, both originating from and harbored around subepithelial capillaries, which suggests the presence of an immune surveillance system in the human vestibular organs.


PMID: 9335460

DOI: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0185(199710)249:2<153::aid-ar1>;2-z

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