Source and role of endolymph macromolecules

Ruediger Thalmann, Isolde Thalmann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Evaluation of some 200 endolymph proteins indicates that they are predominantly derived from plasma. However, the profile of endolymph proteins is remarkably similar to that of perilymph and entirely different from that of plasma. This supports the current consensus that perilymph rather than plasma is the (direct) source of endolymph. Although the levels of total protein of endolymph is extremely low, a few plasma-derived proteins, such as apolipoproteins J and D, are selectively enriched, conceivably for protection of cell membranes bounding the endolymphatic space. A small number of endolymph proteins, mostly glycosylated ones, are continually secreted into the endolymph by specialized epithelial cells, primarily for the maintenance of the structural and functional integrity of the extracellular superstructures comprising tectorial membrane, otoconial complex (membrane) and cupula. These complex macromolecules cannot be eliminated in the periphery of the compartment, but are transported to the endolymphatic sac for elimination. Impaired clearance of these negatively charged macromolecules by a dysfunctional endolymphatic sac will contribute to the chemical imbalance of endolymph which accompanies long-standing endolymphatic hydrops, and may be one of the reasons for the observed loss of function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-296
Number of pages4
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Endolymphatic hydrops
  • Endolymphatic sac
  • Otoconial complex
  • Sensory superstructures


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