A total of 4668 patients from four university hospitals, all representing cases with inner ear tumours or other inner ear disorders were evaluated. No primary cancer or melanoma could be detected. These results are in compliance with publications of other institutions discussing their own results in detecting inner ear pathologies. This finding is unusual and leads to the assumption that the epithelial cells of the auditory inner ear may be protected from malignant transformations. The aim of this study is to investigate the reasons for this supposed anticarcinogenic privilege of the auditory inner ear. The auditory inner ear has some unique features in the organism by reversing the relationship between intra- and extracellular ion concentrations of potassium and sodium in the endolymph. Furthermore it has a physiologically extremely high membrane potential and an unusual transmembrane and extracellular circulation of potassium ions. How these aspects contrast with the corresponding features at the carcinoma site, will be investigated. This comparison will be further deepened by reviewing the published actions of antitumoral substances in connection with these issues. On the basis of this comparative study one might speculate that the auditory inner ear is privileged by an anticarcinogenic principle and that the specific features of membrane potential, certain potassium channels and the unique transmembrane as well as extracellular potassium movements may play a decisive role in it.
Keywords: Carcinogenesis, antitumoral actions, auditory inner ear, membrane potentials, ion homeostasis, potassium channels, gap junctions, electrical coupling, complementary and conventional antitumoral therapy
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