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March 1992

Cholinergic Innervation of the Guinea Pig Tympanic Membrane

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill (Drs Baxter, Brechtelsbauer, Prazma, and Pillsbury), and the Hunan Medical University, Changsha, People's Republic of China (Dr Xie).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118(3):265-268. doi:10.1001/archotol.1992.01880030047011

• While cholinergic nerve fibers of the parasympathetic system have been demonstrated in the middle ear mucosa, such innervation of the tympanic membrane has never been shown. Such fibers may prove important since the tympanic membrane may be one of the initial sites of effusion production, and since parasympathetic innervation is thought to be involved with middle ear effusion. To demonstrate cholinergic innervation, we have used modified direct thiocholine histochemical staining. Anesthetized Hartley guinea pigs were killed, and the tympanic bullae were removed intact, fixed in 4% paraformaldehyde, and then stained whole. Following staining, the tympanic membrane was dissected from each bulla and whole-mounted for light microscopy. Numerous acetylcholinesterase-positive fibers were observed on the tympanic membrane. Some fibers appeared to be vessel associated, although the majority did not. This suggests that these fibers may act on the mucosa or vasculature of the tympanic membrane and contribute to the pathogenesis of middle ear effusion.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118:265-268)

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