Meniere's disease (MD), a syndromal inner ear disease, is commonly associated with a pathological accumulation of endolymphatic fluid in the inner ear, termed "idiopathic" endolymphatic hydrops (iEH). Although numerous precipitating/exacerbating factors have been proposed for MD, its etiology remains elusive. Here, using immunohistochemistry and in situ protein-protein interaction detection assays, we demonstrate mineralocorticoid-controlled sodium transport mechanisms in the epithelium of the extraosseous portion of the endolymphatic sac (eES) in the murine and human inner ears. Histological analysis of the eES in an extensive series of human temporal bones consistently revealed pathological changes in the eES in cases with iEH and a clinical history of MD, but no such changes were found in cases with "secondary" EH due to other otological diseases or in healthy controls. Notably, two etiologically different pathologies-degeneration and developmental hypoplasia-that selectively affect the eES in MD were distinguished. Clinical records from MD cases with degenerative and hypoplastic eES pathology revealed distinct intergroup differences in clinical disease presentation. Overall, we have identified for the first time two inner ear pathologies that are consistently present in MD and can be directly linked to the pathogenesis of EH, and which potentially affect the phenotypical presentation of MD.
Keywords: Aldosterone; Endolymphatic hydrops; Endolymphatic sac; Meniere’s disease; Sodium.