Hyperpigmentation of Chinchilla Stria Vascularis Following Acoustic Trauma


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This report describes morphological alterations of the chinchilla stria vascularis seen 30 days after exposure to impulse noise. The observed changes included a dramatic increase in strial melanin content which occurred in 7 of 36 animals exposed to electronically synthesized impulses presented in various temporal patterns at either 135 or 150 dB peak SPL. In these animals, densely pigmented areas of stria 1.5 to 3 mm in length were found in the basal cochlear turn. Light and electron microscopic study revealed that these areas contained large numbers of melanin granules situated primarily in pale‐staining cells of the middle layer of the stria. Unlike the pigment granules present in normal chinchilla stria, the melanosomes found in the noise‐exposed material clearly showed ultrastructural features characteristic of eumelanin. Melanin granules were also observed in marginal and basal cells of the noise‐exposed stria. In some cases, pigment granules which had apparently been expelled from the marginal cells were present in the endolymphatic space beneath Reissner's membrane and on the strial surface. These findings support the view that the melanin‐bearing cells of the inner ear are capable of markedly increased activity in response to stressful conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalPigment Cell Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992


  • Inner ear
  • Melanin
  • Noise


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