Novel structures in marginal and intermediate cells presumably relate to functions of apical versus basal strial strata.Hear Res. 2005 Feb; 200(1-2):87-101.HR
Prior ultrastructural studies showed that K+ supplied to the stria vascularis came from recycling ions from the organ of Corti or perilymph to strial basal cells. A newly distinguished basal subtype of intermediate cell (BIC) completely covered the basal cells with a leaf-like horizontal process and appeared situated to absorb from them all of the recycled K+. The basal region of marginal cells (MCs) projected foot-like and enlarged processes to border BICs opposite an unique ca. 150 angstroms space. These basal MC processes appeared positioned to resorb part of the K+ recycled to BICs. A second, upper subtype of IC (UIC), occupying middle to upper strial strata, contacted BIC's extensively. UICs were thus located to resorb from BICs the portion of the recycled K+ not forwarded to basal MC processes. The apical segment of MCs projected mitochondria-filled primary processes and numerous associated secondary processes. The Na,K-ATPase-rich secondary processes populated mid to upper stria where they could siphon K+ from UICs and resorb and secrete the ions thus generating the 150 mM [KCl] of endolymph. The morphologic relationship of basal marginal cell processes to BICs differed so strikingly from the relation of upper MC processes to UICs as to suggest a different function for basal stria, one possibly concerned with generating the endocochlear potential.