Characterization and inflammatory response of perivascular-resident macrophage-like melanocytes in the vestibular system

Fei Zhang, Jinhui Zhang, Lingling Neng, Xiaorui Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A large number of perivascular cells expressing both macrophage and melanocyte characteristics (named perivascular-resident macrophage-like melanocytes, PVM/Ms), previously found in the intra-strial fluid-blood barrier, are also found in the blood-labyrinth barrier area of the vestibular system in normal adult cochlea, including in the three ampullae of the semicircular canals (posterior, superior, and horizontal), utricle, and saccule. The cells were identified as PVM/Ms, positive for the macrophage and melanocyte marker proteins F4/80 and GSTα4. Similar to PVM/Ms present in the stria vascularis, the PVM/Ms in the vestibular system are closely associated with microvessels and structurally intertwined with endothelial cells and pericytes, with a density in normal (unstimulated) utricle of 225 ± 43/mm2; saccule 191 ± 25/mm2; horizontal ampullae 212 ± 36/mm2; anterior ampullae 238 ± 36/mm2; and posterior ampullae 223 ± 64/mm2. Injection of bacterial lipopolysaccharide into the middle ear through the tympanic membrane causes the PVM/Ms to activate and arrange in an irregular pattern along capillary walls in all regions within a 48-h period. The inflammatory response significantly increases vascular permeability and leakage. The results underscore the morphological complexity of the blood barrier in the vestibular system, with its surrounding basal lamina, pericytes, as well as second line of defense in PVM/Ms. PVM/Ms may be important to maintain blood barrier integrity and initiating local inflammatory response in the vestibular system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-643
Number of pages9
JournalJARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • inflammation
  • mouse vestibular system
  • perivascular-resident macrophage-type melanocyte
  • vascular permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems


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