Ultrastructural, physiological, and molecular defects in the inner ear of a gene-knockout mouse model for autosomal Alport syndrome

Dominic Cosgrove, Gina Samuelson, Daniel T. Meehan, Caroline Miller, JoAnn McGee, Edward J. Walsh, Michel Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


The cochleae from a COL4A3-deficient mouse line were examined for defects that might shed light on the molecular mechanism of otopathology observed in humans with Alport syndrome. At the light microscopic level no obvious defects were observed. Immunohistochemical analysis using antibodies specific for the basement membrane collagen chains revealed the absence of the COL4A3 and COL4A4 chains throughout the membranous labyrinth. The COL4A5 chain was absent from all cochlear basement membranes except those in the vessels of the stria vascularis. Expression of the COL4A1 and COL4A2 chains was unchanged in the mutant. Electron microscopic examination of the cochlear basement membranes revealed significant thinning of the basement membrane running from the spiral limbus, down the inner sulcus, across the basilar membrane and up to the spiral prominence. Basement membranes that normally ensheathe the root cells were not detectable. In contrast, the basement membranes surrounding the vessels of the stria vascularis were significantly thickened in the mutant. This was associated with endothelial cell swelling and a marked decrease in internal capillary diameter. In severe cases, pathology was observed in the marginal cells with a loss of basolateral infoldings. Immunohistochemical analysis of the strial vessels revealed an increase in entactin and collagen COL4A1 and COL4A2 chains. Auditory-evoked brainstem response measurements suggest a small increase in thresholds across all frequencies when successive measurements on individual mutant mice were examined between 6 and 8 postnatal weeks. Combined, these results illustrate changes in the basement membranes of the strial vessels that bear resemblance to Alport glomerular basement membrane pathology. A closer look at this compartment in human Alport biopsy specimen may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-98
Number of pages15
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 1998


  • Basement membrane
  • Cochlea
  • Collagen
  • Pathology
  • Stria vascularis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems

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