Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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High cytokine levels in perforated acute otitis media exudates containing live bacteria.

Acute otitis media (AOM) is an inflammatory response to microbes in the middle ear, sometimes associated with rupture of the tympanic membrane. Human leukocytes produce different patterns of inflammatory mediators in vitro when stimulated with Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, respectively. Here, we investigated the cytokine and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) responses in middle ear fluids (MEFs) from children with spontaneously perforated AOM, and related the mediator levels to the presence of pathogens detected by culture (live) or PCR (live or dead). Furthermore, the in vivo cytokine pattern was compared with that induced in leukocytes stimulated by dead bacteria in vitro. MEFs with culturable pathogenic bacteria contained more interleukin (IL)-1β (median: 110 μg/L vs. <7.5 μg/L), tumour necrosis factor (TNF) (6.3 μg/L vs. <2.5 μg/L), IL-8 (410 μg/L vs. 38 μg/L) and IL-10 (0.48 μg/L vs. <0.30 μg/L) than culture-negative fluids, irrespective of PCR findings. IL-6 and PGE2 were equally abundant (69-110 μg/L) in effusions with live, dead or undetectable bacteria. Cytokine levels were unrelated to bacterial species and to the presence or absence of virus. Similar levels of TNF and IL-6 as found in the MEFs were obtained by in vitro stimulation of leukocytes, whereas 11 times more IL-1β and 3.5 times more IL-8 were produced in vivo, and 22 times more IL-10 was produced in vitro. Vigorous production of proinflammatory cytokines accompanies AOM with membrane rupture, regardless of the causative agent, but the production seems to cease rapidly once the bacteria are killed and fragmented. IL-6 and PGE2, however, remain after bacterial disintegration, and may play a role in the resolution phase.

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