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Infect Immun. 1998 Jan;66(1):343-6.

Bacterial cytolysin perturbs round window membrane permeability barrier in vivo: possible cause of sensorineural hearing loss in acute otitis media.

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Medical Experimental Center, University of Leipzig, Germany.


The passage of radioiodinated streptolysin-O (SLO) and albumin through the round window membrane (RWM) was studied in vivo. When applied to the middle ear, SLO became quantitatively entrapped in this compartment and no passage to the cochlea occurred. However, flux of radioiodinated albumin through the toxin-damaged RWM was observed. We propose that the passage of noxious macromolecules, such as proteases, from a purulent middle-ear effusion may be facilitated by pore-forming toxins, resulting in cochlear damage and sensorineural hearing loss.

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