Inner-ear circulation in humans is disrupted by extracranial venous outflow strictures: Implications for Ménière’s disease

Submitted: 24 October 2017
Accepted: 9 January 2018
Published: 14 February 2018
Abstract Views: 4441
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Appendix: 221
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Ménière’s disease (MD) is a pathology of the inner ear, the symptoms of which include tinnitus, vertigo attacks, fluctuating hearing loss, and nausea. Neither cause nor cure are currently known, though animal experiments suggest that disruption of the inner ear circulation, including venous hypertension and endolymphatic hydrops, to be hallmarks of the disease. Recent evidence for humans suggests a potential link to strictures in the extracranial venous outflow routes. The purpose of the present work is to demonstrate that the inner-ear circulation in humans is disrupted by extracranial venous outflow stricture and to discuss the implications of this finding for MD. The hypothesis linking extracranial venous outflow strictures to the altered dynamics of central nervous system (CNS) fluid compartments is investigated theoretically via a global, closed-loop, multiscale mathematical model for the entire human circulation, interacting with the brain parenchyma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The fluid dynamics model for the full human body includes submodels for the heart, pulmonary circulation, arterial system, microvasculature, venous system and the CSF, with a specially refined description of the inner ear vasculature. We demonstrate that extracranial venous outflow strictures disrupt inner ear circulation, and more generally, alter the dynamics of fluid compartments in the whole CNS. Specifically, as compared to a healthy control, the computational results from our model show that subjects with extracranial outflow venous strictures exhibit: altered inner ear circulation, redirection of flow to collaterals, increased intracranial venous pressure and increased intracranial pressure. Our findings are consistent with recent clinical evidence in humans that links extracranial outflow venous strictures to MD, aid the mechanistic understanding of the underlying features of the disease and lend support to recently proposed biophysically motivated therapies aimed at reducing the overall pressure in the inner ear circulation. More work is required to understand the finer details of the condition, such as the associated dynamics of fluids in the perilymphatic and endolymphatic spaces, so as to incorporate such knowledge into the mathematical models in order to reflect the real physiology more closely.

Toro, E. F., Borgioli, F., Zhang, Q., Contarino, C., Müller, L. O., & Bruno, A. (2018). Inner-ear circulation in humans is disrupted by extracranial venous outflow strictures: Implications for Ménière’s disease. Veins and Lymphatics, 7(1).


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