Acute Streptococcus pneumoniae Meningogenic Labyrinthitis:  An Experimental Guinea Pig Model and Literature Review

Andrew L. Blank, MD; Gustave L. Davis, MD; Thomas R. VanDeWater, PhD; Robert J. Ruben, MD
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1994;120(12):1342-1346. doi:10.1001/archotol.1994.01880360040008.
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Objective:  To create an experimental model of Streptococcus pneumoniae type 3 meningogenic labyrinthitis (a leading cause of deafness) similar to that in human disease.

Design:  Cohort analytic study of guinea pigs that were inoculated intrathecally with varying dilutions of S pneumoniae type 3; the progress of the disease was compared with that in saline solution–inoculated control animals.

Subjects:  Healthy adult Hartley guinea pigs without clinical evidence of middle ear disease that were conveniently sampled.

Interventions:  Intrathecal inoculation of 104 to 106 colony-forming units of S pneumoniae type 3 into 13 guinea pigs; signs and symptoms of meningitis/labyrinthitis were observed for 15 days and compared with those in two saline solution–inoculated control animals.

Main Outcome Measures:  Morbidity—labyrinthitis, meningitis; end point—death.

Results:  The 104 to 106 colony-forming units of S pneumoniae type 3 caused inflammation that extended from the meninges to the inner ear via the cochlear aqueduct within 3 days after inoculation; a dose of 107 killed animals within 12 hours after inoculation. Three of five animals that were inoculated with a 106 dose died 3 days after inoculation; two of three animals that were inoculated with a 105 dose lived to 15 days after inoculation. One of two animals that were inoculated with a 104 dose did not become infected. Inflammation extended to the middle ear by round-window destruction. Reactive bone formation simulated labyrinthine osteosclerosis. Observers assessed histologic slides "blindly."

Conclusion:  Guinea pigs can survive 15 days after intrathecal inoculation of a 105 dose, with morphologic features similar to those in human disease. This is an effective model for this study of meningogenic labyrinthitis.(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1994;120:1342-1346)


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