The expression of tenascin-C and tenascin-W in human ossicles

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The ossicles of the middle ear (the malleus, incus and stapes) transmit forces resulting from vibrations of the tympanic membrane to the cochlea where they are coded as sound. Hearing loss can result from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that affect the joints between the ossicles or degenerative processes like otosclerosis that lead to ankylosis of the footplate of the stapes in the oval window of the cochlea. In this study, immunohistochemistry was used to determine if the extracellular matrix glycoproteins tenascin-C or tenascin-W are expressed in the incudomalleolar and incudostapedial joints of ossicles dissected from human cadavers. Tenascin-C, which is expressed during inflammatory conditions including RA, was seen in the articular cartilage of the incudomalleolar joints and the head of the stapes. Tenascin-W, in contrast, was enriched in the annular ligament that anchors the footplate of the stapes into the oval window of the cochlea.

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