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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Aug;136(8):819-24. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2010.123.

MUC5AC expression in human middle ear epithelium of patients with otitis media.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, 9000 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA. kersch@mcw.edu



To compare levels of middle ear (ME) MUC5AC expression in patients with otitis media (OM) with patients without OM. Mucin gene 5AC has been identified as a major secretory mucin in the ME and is fundamentally important in the development of ME mucoid effusions, hearing loss and also provides ME mucosal protection and bacterial clearance.


Case control.


Tertiary, academic, pediatric otolaryngology practice.


Patients 9 months to 7 years old undergoing routine tympanostomy tube (TT) insertion for recurrent otitis media (RecOM) or chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) were compared with control patients without a history of OM undergoing cochlear implantation.


During routine TT placement or cochlear implantation, a 1-mm biopsy sample of the ME epithelium was obtained. RNA was extracted, and real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify levels of MUC5AC expression.


Twenty-three patients with OM (12 with RecOM and with 11 COME) were evaluated using 5 controls. Mean age was not different between groups. In the RecOM group, mean expression of MUC5AC was 25.92 times greater than in controls. In the COME group, the mean expression was 155.40 times greater than in controls.


Levels of MUC5AC expression in the human ME are significantly increased in patients with RecOM and COME compared with controls. This study demonstrates MUC5AC gene changes in patients with OM and highlights the need for greater understanding of the molecular responses in OM; particularly that of mucin. A thorough exploration of these factors will provide opportunities to develop novel interventions for the extremely common problem of OM.

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