• Acute otitis media;
  • animal model;
  • diagnosis;
  • otomicroscopy;
  • IL-6

The aim of the present study was to explore whether it was possible to differentiate the clinical course and the otomicroscopic appearance of acute otitis media (AOM) caused by common otitis pathogens in an animal model. Systemic interleukin (IL)-6 levels as early markers for bacterial AOM were also studied. Four groups of rats were inoculated with either Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae or Moraxella catarrhalis. The animals were monitored by otomicroscopy, photos of the tympanic membrane, cultures and IL-6 detection in serum the following 4 days. The gram-positive S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes induced severe AOM with opaque effusion behind the tympanic membrane, pronounced dilation of the vessels and spontaneous perforations. The gram-negative H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis induced a less severe infection with cloudy, sometimes foamy effusion, and no spontaneous perforations. With the otomicroscopic findings it was possible to distinguish between infections induced by gram-positive bacteria and gram-negative bacteria. Detection of interleukin-6 in serum appeared to be of limited use for all infections except the pneumococcal AOM, but this needs to be further investigated.