We studied the contribution of pneumococcal cell wall to the pathogenesis of otitis media in chinchillas after middle ear inoculation of killed, encapsulated type 7F Streptococcus pneumoniae; killed, unencapsulated R6 S. pneumoniae; and isolated R6 pneumococcal cell wall. Ears inoculated with encapsulated and unencapsulated pneumococci had significantly higher concentrations of polymorphonuclear and mononuclear leukocytes and lysozyme in middle ear fluid and developed more epithelial metaplasia and granulation tissue than did saline-inoculated ears. The mean concentration of lysozyme in middle ear fluid was higher in ears inoculated with killed, unencapsulated than encapsulated pneumococci. The middle ear mucoperiosteum of ears inoculated with pneumococcal cell wall showed significantly more polymorphonuclear leukocytes, epithelial metaplasia, sub- epithelial congestion, and granulation tissue than did control ears. Because nonviable, unencapsulated pneumococci and pneumococcal cell wall caused middle ear inflammation in the chinchilla model of otitis media, it is possible that cell envelope and cell wall components released during bacterial lysis may contribute to chronic otitis media with effusion in humans.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported in part by grant NS-14538 from the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke.