MUC5B Is the predominant mucin glycoprotein in chronic otitis media fluid

Pediatr Res. 2010 Sep;68(3):231-6. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181eb2ecc.


Chronic otitis media (COM), e.g. "glue" ear is characterized by middle ear effusion and conductive hearing loss. Although mucous glycoproteins (mucins), which contribute to increased effusion viscosity, have been analyzed in ear tissue specimens, no studies have been reported that characterize the molecular identity of secreted mucin proteins present in actual middle ear fluid. For this study, effusions from children with COM undergoing myringotomy at Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC were collected. These were solubilized and gel fractionated, and the protein content was identified using a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) proteomics approach. Western blot analyses with mucin specific antibodies and densitometry were performed to validate the mass spectrometry findings. LC-MS/MS results identified mucin MUC5B by >26 unique peptides in six of six middle ear effusion samples, whereas mucin MUC5AC was only identified in one of six middle ear effusions. These findings were validated by Western blot performed on the same six and on an additional 11 separate samples where densitometry revealed on average a 6.4-fold increased signal in MUC5B when compared with MUC5AC (p = 0.0009). In summary, although both MUC5AC and MUC5B mucins are detected in middle ear effusions, MUC5B seems to be predominant mucin present in COM secretions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Child
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • District of Columbia
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Exudates and Transudates / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Mucin-5B / analysis*
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / metabolism*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • MUC5B protein, human
  • Mucin-5B