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Microb Drug Resist. 1999 Spring;5(1):57-72.

Otitis media: the chinchilla model.

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Otitis Media Research Center, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Streptococcus pneumoniae infection and disease have been modeled in several animal species including infant and adult mice, infant and adult rats, infant Rhesus monkeys, and adolescent and adult chinchillas. Most are models of sepsis arising from intravenous or intraperitoneal inoculation of bacteria, and a few were designed to study disease arising from intranasal infection. Chinchillas provide the only animal model of middle ear pneumococcal infection in which the disease can be produced by very small inocula injected into the middle ear (ME) or intranasally, and in which the disease remains localized to the ME in most cases. This model, developed at the University of Minnesota in 1975, has been used to study pneumococcal pathogenesis at a mucosal site, immunogenicity and efficacy of pneumococcal capsular polysaccharide (PS) vaccine antigens, and the kinetics and efficacy of antimicrobial drugs. Pathogenesis experiments in the chinchilla model have revealed variation in ME virulence among different pneumococcal serotypes, enhancement of ME infection during concurrent intranasal influenza A virus infections, and natural resolution of pneumococcal otitis media (OM) without intervention. Research has explored the relative contribution of pneumococcal and host products to ME inflammation. Pneumococcal cell wall components and pneumolysin have been studied in the model. Host inflammatory responses studied in the chinchilla ME include polymorphonuclear leukocyte oxidative products, hydrolytic enzymes, cytokine and eicosanoid metabolites, and ME epithelial cell adhesion and mucous glycoprotein production. Both clinical (tympanic membrane appearance) and histopathology (ME, Eustachian tube, inner ear) endpoints can be quantified. Immunologic and inflammatory studies have been facilitated by the production of affinity-purified antichinchilla immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgM, and secretory IgA polyclonal antibody reagents, and the identification of cross-reactivity between human and chinchilla cytokines, and between guinea pig and chinchilla C3. Alteration of ME mucosa by pneumococcal neuraminidase and alteration of ME epithelial cell (MEEC) surface carbohydrates during intranasal pneumococcal infection have been demonstrated. Pathogenesis studies have been aided by cultured chinchilla MEEC systems, in which the ability of platelet activating factor and interleukin (IL)-1 beta to stimulate epithelial mucous glycoprotein synthesis has recently been demonstrated. Because chronic OM with effusion is characterized by presence of large amounts of mucous glycoprotein in the ME, pneumococcus may have an important role in both acute and chronic ME disease. Both unconjugated PS and PS-protein-conjugated vaccines are immunogenic after intramuscular administration without adjuvant in chinchillas. Passive protection studies with human hyperimmune immunoglobulin demonstrated that anti-PS IgG alone is capable of protecting the chinchilla ME from direct ME challenge with pneumococci. Active PS immunization studies demonstrated protection following direct ME and intranasal pneumococcal challenge with and without concurrent influenza A virus infection. An attenuated influenza A virus vaccine also showed protection for pneumococcal OM. Antimicrobial treatment of acute OM has been based almost exclusively on empirical drug use and clinical trials without a foundation of ME pharmacokinetics. Studies in the chinchilla model have started to bring a rational basis to drug selection and dosing. Microassays have been developed using high-pressure liquid chromatography for many relevant drugs. Studies have explored the in vivo ME response in pneumococcal OM to antimicrobial drugs at supra- and sub-minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC), the effect of concurrent influenza A virus infection on ME drug penetration, and the effect of treatment on sensorineural hearing loss produced by pneumococcal OM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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