Stria vascularis and cochlear hair cell changes in syphilis: A human temporal bone study

Published:February 06, 2016DOI:



      To observe any changes in stria vascularis and cochlear hair cells in patients with syphilis.

      Materials and methods

      We examined 13 human temporal bone samples from 8 patients with syphilis (our syphilis group), as well as 12 histopathologically normal samples from 9 age-matched patients without syphilis (our control group). We compared, between the two groups, the mean area of the stria vascularis (measured with conventional light microscopy connected to a personal computer) and the mean percentage of cochlear hair cell loss (obtained from cytocochleograms).


      In our syphilis group, only 1 (7.7%) of the 13 samples had precipitate in the endolymphatic or perilymphatic spaces; 8 (61.5%) of the samples revealed the presence of endolymphatic hydrops (4 cochlear, 4 saccular). The mean area of the stria vascularis did not significantly differ, in any turn of the cochlea, between the 2 groups (P > 0.1). However, we did find significant differences between the 2 groups in the mean percentage of outer hair cells in the apical turn (P < 0.026) and in the mean percentage of inner hair cells in the basal (P = 0.001), middle (P = 0.004), and apical (P = 0.018) turns. In 7 samples in our syphilis group, we observed either complete loss of the organ of Corti or a flattened organ of Corti without any cells in addition to the absence of both outer and inner hair cells.


      In this study, syphilis led either to complete loss of the organ of Corti or to significant loss of cochlear hair cells, in addition to cochleosaccular hydrops. But the area of the stria vascularis did not change.


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