Otosclerosis: An organ-specific inflammatory disease with sensorineural hearing loss

István Sziklai, Tamás József Batta, Tamás Karosi

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Otosclerosis is an inflammatory disease associated with persistent measles virus (MV) infection of the otic capsule. The nature of sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) related to otosclerosis can be due to the chronic TNF-α release from the foci. TNF-α enters the inner ear fluid spaces in histologically active stages of otosclerosis and may cause outer hair cell functional disorder and subsequent SNHL without morphological changes of the organ of Corti. On the contrary, non-otosclerotic stapes ankylosis being a non-inflammatory disease is not harmful for hair cells. Theoretically, SNHL should not associate to this type of stapes fixation. Stapes footplates (N = 248) were examined by hematoxylin-eosin staining and corresponding MV-, OPG- and TNF-α-speciWc RT-PCR. Anti-measles IgG levels of serum specimens were measured by ELISA. Preoperative audiological results were correlated with otosclerotic and non-otosclerotic histopathologies. Among patients with stapes fixation, we found 93 active and 67 inactive otosclerosis, and 88 non-otosclerotic stapes ankylosis. MV could only be detected in otosclerotic stapes footplates. Audiometry revealed bone conduction threshold elevation toward the high frequencies in otosclerotic patients, which was associated to the duration of hearing loss. OPG mRNA expression was significantly lower in the TNF-α positive specimens, which was independent from virus positivity. In about one-third of stapes fixations, the etiology is non-otosclerotic stapes ankylosis. Histologic otosclerosis exhibits a strong correlation with MV presence in the bone as a sign of persistent MV infection and related inflammation with TNF-α release. This causes SNHL in the function of time. Non-otosclerotic stapes fixations do not cause high-frequency SNHL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1711-1718
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2009


  • Measles virus (MV)
  • Non-otosclerotic stapes fixation
  • Osteoprotegerin (OPG)
  • Otosclerosis
  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)
  • Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology

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