Research Topic

Otitis Media Genomics and the Middle Ear Microbiome

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About this Research Topic

Otitis media or middle ear infection is a very common disease in childhood, with about half of US children having at least one episode of infection by one year of age. There are multiple environmental risk factors for otitis media, however in some children even without other predisposing factors, genetic ...

Otitis media or middle ear infection is a very common disease in childhood, with about half of US children having at least one episode of infection by one year of age. There are multiple environmental risk factors for otitis media, however in some children even without other predisposing factors, genetic susceptibility may lead to recurrent or chronic infections that may persist into adulthood even with the best treatment. Among potential complications of otitis media, hearing loss is the most common and can lead to language and speech difficulties. Heritability of otitis media is estimated at 22-74% depending on cohort and otitis media type. Multiple loci and genes that are involved with otitis media susceptibility have been identified, but otitis media is severely understudied compared to many other common complex traits. Moreover, relatively few studies probe how previously identified genetic variants mechanistically affect middle ear function. Though the middle ear is similar to other mucosal sites, there are indications that the middle ear has unique characteristics that make it susceptible to infection, particularly when viewed in terms of the middle ear microbiome.
Changes in innate immunity, which may be due to genetic defects or overexpression, are common mechanisms by which recurrent otitis media occurs. Modulation of the middle ear microbiome is another way by which genetic variants predispose to otitis media and is, therefore, a potential pathway to discovery of new treatment options.

In order to improve our understanding of otitis media pathophysiology and its sequelae, this Frontiers Research Topic aims to explore the human host-microbial interaction within the middle ear and other related mucosal sites. Cutting-edge, trans-disciplinary research that either focus on or integrate bioinformatics, biostatistics, genetics, genomics, epigenetics, transcriptomics, proteomics, microbiology, and immunology, to name a few, using human, animal and microbial studies on otitis media are required to push the field forward.

In this Topic, we want to know (1) what genetic and/or immune characteristics of the mammalian host lead to otitis media, and (2) if there are particular combinations of commensal and pathogenic microbes, including microbial genomic changes, whether in the middle ear or other mucosal sites that further increase otitis media susceptibility. We welcome all forms of submissions: Original Research Articles, Review Articles, Method Articles, Clinical Trials, Case Reports, Mini-Review Articles, General Commentaries, Perspectives, Hypotheses & Theories.

Topic Editor Allen F. Ryan is co-founder of, shareholder in and uncompensated consultant to Otonomy. All other topic editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject


Keywords: 16S rRNA, epithelium, gene, genome, metagenome, microbiome, middle ear, mucosa, otitis media, virome


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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