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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Medical School
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

PI: Vladimir Tsuprun
Co-PI: Steven K. Juhn

Effect of Middle Ear Inflammation on the Inner Ear

The pathogenesis of otitis media (OM) is multi-factorial and includes host defenses, virulence characteristics of bacteria, and environmental/genetic factors. There are fundamental gaps in our understanding of how bacterial pathogens in OM cause the inflammatory response in the middle ear, the mechanism of the innate defense system, middle and inner ear interaction, inner ear pathology, and hearing loss due to OM. These researchers are developing a cogent investigation of the molecular processes underlying migration of infectious agents from the middle to the inner ear and the effects of such migration on ear pathology and auditory function. This research focuses on bacterial virulence factors known to protect bacteria from host defenses and/or to promote bacterial colonization and invasion. The long-term goal is to utilize this information to develop novel non-antibiotic approaches to prevent and treat OM and sensorineural hearing loss due to OM that differs from the current treatments and preventions that have led to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The immediate objective of this project is to understand the various roles of bacterial virulence factors of two primary pathogens of human OM, Streptococcus pneumoniae and nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi), in the host inflammatory response and the pathogenesis of the middle and inner ears for therapeutic targeting and/or developing a vaccine composition against OM and its inner-ear complications that is based on the correct combination of bacterial antigens.

In another project during this period, the researchers studied the structure of stereocilia links of sensory hair bundles, with the objective of obtaining more detailed information about the structure, properties, and function of the stereocilia links and their relationship to abnormalities of the stereocilia bundle caused by acoustic trauma.