Objectives: In this study we aimed to determine the feasibility of using a rat model for the study of postnatal vocal fold (VF) development. Methods: Eighteen male rats that were 3 days old, 3 weeks old, or 8 months old were analyzed histologically with Alcian blue stain used for detecting hyaluronic acid, elastin-van Gieson stain for elastin, Oil Red O and gold chloride stains for vitamin A-containing lipid droplets, and immunohistochemistry for vimentin (general fibroblast marker) and collagen types I and III. Results: The macula flava (MF) was observed as a mass of cells that expressed vimentin intensively in the cytoplasm. The MF showed denser hyaluronic acid and collagen type I than did the midmembranous portion of the VF lamina propria. Clear developmental changes were evident in the MF and other regions. The vimentin-positive cells of the 3-day-old MF were mainly oval-shaped and had less cytoplasm, whereas those of the 8-month-old MF were spindle- and stellate-shaped and had more cytoplasm, similar to that reported in humans. Vitamin A-containing lipid droplets were limited to the 3-week-old and 8-month-old MFs and were not present in the 3-day-old VF. Conclusions: These results suggest that a rat model is useful in studying VF development and that vitamin A is related to the maturity of the VF.
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