Localization of pH regulating proteins H+ATPase and Cl-/HCO3- exchanger in the guinea pig inner ear

Hear Res. 1997 Dec;114(1-2):21-34. doi: 10.1016/s0378-5955(97)00072-5.


Mechanisms that regulate endolymphatic pH are unknown. It has long been recognized that, because of the large positive endolymphatic potential in the cochlea, a passive movement of protons would be directed out of endolymph leading to endolymphatic alkalization. However, endolymphatic pH is close to that of blood, suggesting that H+ is being secreted into endolymph. Since the kidney and the inner ear are both actively engaged in fluid and electrolyte regulation, we attempted to determine whether proteins responsible for acid secretion in the kidney also exist in the guinea pig inner ear. To that end, a monoclonal antibody against a 31 kDa subunit of a vacuolar vH+ATPase and a polyclonal, affinity purified antibody against the AE2 Cl-/HCO3- exchanger (which can also recognize AE1 under some conditions) were used. In the cochlea, the strongest immunoreactivity for the vH+ATPase was found in apical plasma membranes and apical cytoplasm of strial marginal cells. These cells were negative for the Cl-/HCO3- exchanger. Certain cells of the inner ear demonstrated both apical staining for vH+ATPase and basolateral staining for the Cl-/HCO3- exchanger; these included interdental cells and epithelial cells of the endolymphatic sac. Cochlear cell types with diffuse cytoplasmic staining for vH+ATPase and a basolaterally localized Cl-/HCO3- exchanger included inner hair cells, root cells and a subset of supporting cells in the organ of Corti. Hair cells of the utricle, saccule and cristae ampullaris also expressed both vH+ATPase and the Cl-/HCO3- exchanger, but immunostaining for the vH+ATPase was less intense and less polarized than in the cochlea. These immunocytochemical results support a role for the vH+ATPase and Cl-/HCO3- exchanger in the regulation of endolymphatic pH and suggest that certain cells (including strial marginal cells and epithelial cells of the endolymphatic sac) may be specialized for this regulation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antiporters / analysis*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Chloride-Bicarbonate Antiporters
  • Cochlea / cytology
  • Cochlea / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Endolymph / metabolism
  • Endolymphatic Sac / cytology
  • Endolymphatic Sac / metabolism
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / analysis*
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases / chemistry
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / cytology
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / metabolism*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antiporters
  • Chloride-Bicarbonate Antiporters
  • Proton-Translocating ATPases