What is the role of immunology in the pathogenesis of acute otitis media (AOM)?

Updated: Sep 25, 2019
  • Author: John D Donaldson, MD, FRCSC, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Immunologic activity may play a significant role in the frequency of AOM and its outcome. Although most research has focused on the immunologic aspects of OME, certain relations between AOM and the patient’s immune status have been demonstrated, as follows:

  • Production of antibodies may promote clearance of a middle ear effusion after an acute attack

  • Previous exposure or immunization may have a preventative role by suppressing colonization of the nasopharynx by pathogens

  • The formation of antibodies during an attack may prevent or modify future attacks; unfortunately, antibodies to both Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are of the polysaccharide type and the ability to produce them develops late unless conjugated to proteins

  • Minor or transient immunologic defects may give rise to recurrent otitis media

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