BACKGROUND: Bacterial resistance in acute otitis can result in bacterial persistence and biofilm formation, triggering chronic and recurrent infections. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the middle ear inflammatory response to bacterial infection in human and chinchilla temporal bones. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Six chinchillas underwent intrabullar inoculations with 0.5 mL of 106 colony-forming units (CFUs) of Streptococcus pneumoniae, serotype 2. Two days later, we counted bacteria in middle ear effusions postmortem. One ear from each chinchilla was processed in paraffin and sectioned at 5 μm. The opposite ear was embedded in epoxy resin, sectioned at a thickness of 1 μm, and stained with toluidine blue. In addition, we examined human temporal bones from 2 deceased donors with clinical histories of otitis media (1 with acute onset otitis media, 1 with recurrent infection). Temporal bones had been previously removed at autopsy, processed, embedded in celloidin, and cut at a thickness of 20 μm. Sections of temporal bones from both chinchillas and humans were stained with hematoxylin-eosin and immunolabeled with antifibrin and antihistone H4 antibodies. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Histopatological and imminohistochemical changes owing to otitis media. RESULTS: Bacterial counts in chinchilla middle ear effusions 2 days after inoculation were approximately 2 logs above initial inoculum counts. Both human and chinchilla middle ear effusions contained bacteria embedded in a fibrous matrix. Some fibers in the matrix showed positive staining with antifibrin antibody, others with antihistone H4 antibody. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In acute and recurrent otitis media, fibrin and neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are part of the host inflammatory response to bacterial infection. In the early stages of otitis media the host defense system uses fibrin to entrap bacteria, and NETs function to eliminate bacteria. In chronic otitis media, fibrin and NETs appear to persist.
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Funding/Support: This project was funded by the
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