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Anatomy Atlases: Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 1 - Cells Atlas of Microscopic Anatomy: Section 16 - Special Senses

Plate 16.315 Macula Utriculi

Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger, Jr., Ph.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed

Membranous labyrinth

Plate 16.315 Macula Utriculi

Cat, Müller's fluid, iron hematoxylin, 162 x.


Sensory area of the utricle. The sensory epithelium is composed of two types of cells.

Hair cells: Flask-shaped. Nuclei occupy the upper part of the epithelial sheet. These receptors of the macula utriculi are concerned with the orientation of the body with regard to gravity. The receptor cells of the macula sacculi, however, appear to respond primarily to vibratory stimuli.

Supporting cells: Slender. Nuclei are lined up near the basement membrane of the epithelium.

The surface of the macula is covered by a gelatinous material, the otolithic membrane, through which hairs of the hair cells project. The upper surface of the membrane contains densely packed crystals of a calcium carbonate- protein mixture, the otoliths. The utricle and saccule, which are similar in appearance, constitute the "otolith organ."

Nerve fibers: Afferent components of the vestibular portion of the eighth cranial nerve, the vestibulocochlear nerve.

Temporal bone: Forming the osseous labyrinth.  

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