Otosclerosis is a complex bone dystrophy of the human otic capsule leading to conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Since otosclerosis may, at least in part, be considered as an autoimmune-inflammatory disease, disturbed balance of TNF-alpha and osteoprotegerin (OPG) expression has been implicated in the pathological bone remodeling. It has been supposed that active otosclerosis is characterized by decreased or missing local OPG production with invariable OPG sensitivity of the otosclerotic foci. Ankylotic stapes footplates (n = 41) removed by stapedectomy were processed to histological examination, OPG-specific RT-PCR, tissue culturing and alkaline-phosphatase (AP) activity assessment, respectively. OPG concentration of serum specimens (n = 41) was measured by ELISA. Cortical bone fragments harvested from the external ear canal were used as negative controls of otosclerosis. Among 41 ankylotic stapes footplates, 22 active and 19 inactive otosclerosis cases were histologically diagnosed. OPG expression was significantly lower (p < 0.001) in active otosclerosis compared to inactive cases. Osteoclast cultures originated from active otosclerotic foci showed a considerable susceptibility against external OPG dosage, which resulted in a significant decrease of AP activity (p < 0.001). In contrast, OPG serum levels were in the normal range (5-100 ng/ml) indicating a non-systemic bone resorption. In conclusion, secondary decreased local OPG production might play an important role in the pathogenesis of otosclerotic bone remodeling disorder. As to previous and current results, decreased OPG sensitivity of lesion-forming cells should be excluded. These observations may indicate the potential role of recombinant OPG treatment in early stages of otosclerosis.
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