Subversion of host immune responses by otopathogens during otitis media

James M. Parrish, Manasi Soni, Rahul Mittal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Otitis media (OM) is one of the most common ear diseases affecting humans. Children are at greater risk and suffer most frequently from OM, which can cause serious deterioration in the quality of life. OM is generally classified into two main types: acute and chronic OM (AOM and COM). AOM is characterized by tympanic membrane swelling or otorrhea and is accompanied by signs or symptoms of ear infection. In COM, there is a tympanic membrane perforation and purulent discharge. The most common pathogens that cause AOM are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis whereas Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus are commonly associated with COM. Innate and adaptive immune responses provide protection against OM. However, pathogens employ a wide arsenal of weapons to evade potent immune responses and these mechanisms likely contribute to AOM and COM. Immunologic evasion is multifactorial, and involves damage to host mucociliary tract, genetic polymorphisms within otopathogens, the number and variety of different otopathogens in the nasopharynx as well as the interaction between the host's innate and adaptive immune responses. Otopathogens utilize host mucin production, phase variation, biofilm production, glycans, as well as neutrophil and eosinophilic extracellular traps to induce OM. The objective of this review article is to discuss our current understanding about the mechanisms through which otopathogens escape host immunity to induce OM. A better knowledge about the molecular mechanisms leading to subversion of host immune responses will provide novel clues to develop effective treatment modalities for OM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-956
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • chronic suppurative otitis media
  • defensins
  • immune responses
  • Otitis media
  • otopathogens
  • phase variation
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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