Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Physics for Solids, "To investigate the inner structure of human otoconia. Human otoconia were investigated by environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). The diffraction behavior was analyzed using X-ray techniques (XRD). Focused ion beam (FIB) slices of otoconia were investigated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The results were correlated with observations on degenerate human otoconia and decalcification experiments using ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). Artificial otoconia (calcite-gelatine and calcite-gelatine/agarose composites) were investigated in the same way and compared with human otoconia. Human otoconia represent highly mosaic-controlled calcite-based nanocomposites. The inner structure is composed of 3 + 3 branches with an ordered arrangement of nanocomposite particles and parallel orientation of fibrils. The surrounding belly is less ordered and appears more porous. Degenerate otoconia show a successive dissolution of the belly region exposing to the inner structure (branches) in later stages of degeneration. Artificial otoconia reveal identical chemical, crystallographic and morphologic patterns. They are, however, larger in size. Human otoconia show an inner architecture consisting of a less dense belly region and 3 + 3 more dense branches meeting at a central point (center of symmetry). The differences in volume densities and the resulting solubility may play a role in BPPV."
According to the news editors, the research concluded: "Artificial otoconia may serve as a model for further investigations."
For more information on this research see: The Inner Structure of Human Otoconia. Otology & Neurotology, 2014;35(4):686-694. Otology & Neurotology can be contacted at:
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