Cogan's syndrome: Clinical significance of antibodies against the inner ear and cornea

Christoph Helmchen*, V. Arbusow, L. Jäger, M. Strupp, W. Stöcker, P. Schulz

*Corresponding author for this work
42 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to evaluate the pathological significance of antibodies against cornea and inner ear tissue in the development of audiovestibular and ocular symptoms in patients with Cogan's syndrome (CS). We analysed the serum of 5 CS patients for binding of IgM and IgG to fresh cryosections of rat labyrinth (semicircular canals, ampulla, utricle, saccule) and cornea by indirect immunofluorescence (IF). The predominant pattern of anti-corneal IgM was staining of the superficial cell layer of the non-keratinizing squamous epithelium. IgM against cornea was found in 3 patients, all of whom had bilateral inflammatory eye signs at the start of the disease. However, IgM was also detected in the chronic stage of the disease when no clinical signs of eye involvement were apparent. The study includes the first follow-up examination of anti-corneal IgM and IgG antibodies during a complete episode of active CS. During the first episode of CS in 1 patient, anti-corneal IgM became detectable 1 week after the onset of interstitial keratitis and 3 weeks after the onset of audiovestibular symptoms. It increased over several weeks and then fell to very low levels. However, at no time was anti-corneal IgG found. In the course of follow-up examinations, the serum of 4 patients intermittently contained low titre IgG antibodies against inner ear labyrinthine tissue, but without any clear correlation with the active stages of CS. In addition, high-resolution MRI (HR-MRI) of the inner ear was performed in the acute and chronic stages of CS to evaluate the activity of CS. In the acute stage, HR-MRI revealed abnormal MRI signals in the vestibule, semicircular canals, vestibular nerve, or cochlea. In the chronic stage, patients showed narrowing or occlusion of semicircular canals and the cochlea on the 3D-CISS images, but no high signal lesions (T1) and no enhancement. Antibodies against cornea or labyrinthine tissue were not consistently detected in CS and the level of organ-specific antibodies did not correlate with the activity of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Oto-Laryngologica
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)528-536
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 20.08.1999

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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