Evaluation of Dying Vocal Fold Epithelial Cells by Ultrastructural Features and TUNEL Method

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Cell death is a regulated mechanism of eliminating cells to maintain tissue homeostasis. This study described 2 methodological procedures for evaluating cell death in the epithelium of immobilized, approximated and vibrated vocal folds from 12 New Zealand white breeder rabbits. The gold standard technique of transmission electron microscopy evaluated high-quality ultrastructural criteria of cell death and a common immunohistochemical marker, the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling method, to confirm cell death signaling. Results revealed that ultrastructural characteristics of apoptotic cell death, specifically condensed chromatin and apoptotic bodies, were observed after vocal fold vibration and approximation. Although episodes of necrosis were rare, few enlarged cell nuclei were present after vibration and approximation. The vocal fold expresses an immunohistochemical marker for apoptosis along the apical surface of the epithelium. This study provides a solid foundation for future investigations regarding the role of cell death in vocal fold health and disease.

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