The stria vascularis in the C3H/lpr autoimmune strain mouse was ultrastructurally examined in order to better understand the potential mechanisms by which systemic autoimmune disease affects the ear. The inner ears from C3H/lpr mice before disease onset and C3H/HeJ controls showed no apparent pathology. However, the stria vascularis from older C3H/lpr mice after systemic autoimmune disease onset showed considerable intercellular edema around the stria capillaries and thickening of the capillary basement membrane, compared to controls. These observations suggest that perivascular abnormalities, which are the hallmark of systemic autoimmune diseases, may underlie the stria dysfunction and hearing loss seen in autoimmune diseases in humans.
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