The role of DNA sensing and innate immune receptor TLR9 in otitis media

Anke Leichtle, Michelle Hernandez, Jasmine Lee, Kwang Pak, Nicholas J. Webster, Barbara Wollenberg, Stephen I. Wasserman, Allen F. Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work
23 Citations (Scopus)


Otitis media (OM), a common infectious disease in children, is associated with bacterial middle ear (ME) infection. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are important mediators of innate immune responses, and TLR9 specifically recognizes the unmethylated cytidine-phosphate-guanosine (CpG) motifs in bacterial DNA. Additional sensors of foreign DNA have recently been identified. The role of DNA sensing and TLR9 was investigated in a murine model of OM induced by non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). Expression of genes related to DNA-sensing pathways involved in innate immunity was assessed via DNA microarray, qPCR and immunohistochemistry. Middle ear responses to NTHi were examined in wild-type and TLR9-/- mice by histopathology and bacterial culture. Expression of TLR9 signaling genes was modestly up-regulated during OM, as was TLR9 protein in both ME mucosal cells and infiltrating leukocytes. However, genes known to be regulated by CpG DNA were dramatically up-regulated, as were genes involved in DNA sensing by DIA, Pol-III and AIM2. Toll-like receptor 9 deletion significantly prolonged the inflammatory response induced by NTHi in the ME and delayed bacterial clearance. The results suggest that DNA sensing via TLR9 plays a role in OM pathogenesis and recovery. Alternative forms of DNA sensing may also contribute to OM.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInnate Immunity
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2012


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