Background: The pathologic changes that occur as a result of diabetic microangiopathy have been well described for the kidneys and the eyes. Although many studies suggest an association between diabetes mellitus and hearing loss, the pathologic changes in the cochlea in association with the diabetic state remain to be clarified.
Aim/Objective: The aim of this review is to determine the effects of diabetes mellitus on cochlear morphology.
Method: A comprehensive search for relevant articles was carried out on electronic databases of Ovid Medline, Ovid Medline in Process, PubMed, Ovid Embase,or Biosis Preview, The Cochrane Library, ISI Web of Science, and Scopus. Articles published in English between 1940 and June 2010 were eligible to be reviewed. Using predefined inclusion criteria, published articles on histologic changes occurring in the cochlea due to diabetes mellitus were selected and reviewed, and their findings were synthesized.
Results: Changes were observed in the basement membrane of the capillaries of the stria vascularis and in the basilar membrane, which was remarkably thickened, giving rise to diabetic microangiopathy. Loss of spiral ganglion neurons, organ of Corti cells, and atrophic changes in the stria vascularis were varied and infrequent.
Conclusion: There seems to be variable vulnerability of different cochlear cell types to the DM state. Further studies are required to determine the factors responsible for the differences in the histopathologic observations of cochlear tissues.