Middle ear infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae is important in the pathogenesis of acute and chronic otitis media, and lysozyme in middle ear fluid (MEF) is an important inflammatory mediator in this disease. To determine the source of lysozyme during the early period of acute pneumococcal otitis media, chinchillas were irradiated to induce neutropenia, and their middle ears were inoculated with heat-killed, encapsulated pneumococci. The number of inflammatory cells and concentration of lysozyme were measured in MEF between 6 and 72 hours after inoculation. In pneumococcus-inoculated ears, the mean number of inflammatory cells but not lysozyme was significantly lower in MEF from irradiated animals than that from nonirradiated animals at 6 hours. Since lysozyme accumulated in MEF before the influx of inflammatory cells in irradiated animals, the initial release of this inflammatory mediator is most likely not from inflammatory cells; and mucosal epithelial cells, the only other known source of lysozyme in the middle ear environment, were the probable source induced by the direct stimulation of pneumococci. Inflammatory cells may contribute lysozyme later in the inflammatory response, since cellular and lysozyme concentrations in irradiated and nonirradiated animals were similar between 24 and 72 hours. These results suggest that future therapeutic interventions to limit middle ear inflammation in acute otitis media may need to recognize the direct action of pneumococcal cells or their envelope components on middle ear epithelium.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- otitis media