Proteome of normal human perilymph and perilymph from people with disabling vertigo

PLoS One. 2019 Jun 11;14(6):e0218292. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218292. eCollection 2019.


The vast majority of hearing loss, the most common sensory impairment, and vertigo, which commonly causes falls, both reflect underlying dysfunction of inner ear cells. Perilymph sampling can thus provide molecular cues to hearing and balance disorders. While such "liquid biopsy" of the inner ear is not yet in routine clinical practice, previous studies have uncovered alterations in perilymph in patients with certain types of hearing loss. However, the proteome of perilymph from patients with intact hearing has been unknown. Furthermore, no complete characterization of perilymph from patients with vestibular dysfunction has been reported. Here, using liquid-chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry, we analyzed samples of normal perilymph collected from three patients with skull base meningiomas and intact hearing. We identified 228 proteins that were common across the samples, establishing a greatly expanded proteome of the previously inferred normal human perilymph. Further comparison to perilymph obtained from three patients with vestibular dysfunction with drop attacks due to Meniere's disease showed 38 proteins with significantly differential abundance. The abundance of four protein candidates with previously unknown roles in inner ear biology was validated in murine cochleae by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization: AACT, HGFAC, EFEMP1, and TGFBI. Together, these results motivate future work in characterizing the normal human perilymph and identifying biomarkers of inner ear disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cochlea / metabolism*
  • Cochlea / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meniere Disease / metabolism*
  • Meniere Disease / pathology
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Perilymph / metabolism*
  • Proteome / metabolism*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Vertigo / metabolism*
  • Vertigo / pathology


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome