The macromolecular transport in the middle ear mucosa of the guinea pig was investigated by means of light and electron microscopy using tracer substances such as Evans blue, India ink, and horseradish peroxidase (HRP). HRP particles were readily taken up by the middle ear mucosa and Eustachian tube. They were absorbed by all cell types, including ciliated, secretory and non-secretory cells. The particles were first taken up by the pinocytotic vesicles and then transported into the intercellular spaces by reverse pinocytosis. These particles were transported toward the connective tissue through the basilar membrane. Some of the tracer particles were engulfed by the tissue histiocytes, but most of the particles entered into lymphatic and blood capillaries. By Evans blue instillation of the bulla, the retroauricular and junc-tional lymph nodes were positively identified as those draining the middle ear and the Eustachian tube. When HRP was used, the tracer particles were detected in the ipsilateral retroauricular and junctional lymph nodes as early as 5 minutes following the tympanic instillation. HRP in these lymph nodes were mainly found in the specific granules of the macrophages.
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