Immunity genes and susceptibility to otitis media: a comprehensive review

J Genet Genomics. 2014 Nov 20;41(11):567-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jgg.2014.10.003. Epub 2014 Oct 31.


Otitis media (OM) is a middle ear infection associated with inflammation and pain. This disease frequently afflicts humans and is the major cause of hearing loss worldwide. OM continues to be one of the most challenging diseases in the medical field due to its diverse host targets and wide range of clinical manifestations. Substantial morbidity associated with OM is further exacerbated by high frequency of recurrent infections leading to chronic suppurative otitis media (CSOM). Children have greater susceptibility to, and thus, suffer most frequently from OM, which can cause significant deterioration in quality of life. Genetic factors have been demonstrated, in large part by twin and family studies, to be key determinants of OM susceptibility. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on immunity genes and selected variants that have been associated with predisposition to OM. In particular, polymorphisms in innate immunity and cytokine genes have been strongly linked with the risk of developing OM. Future studies employing state-of-the-art technologies, including next-generation sequencing (NGS), will aid in the identification of novel genes associated with susceptibility to OM. This, in turn, will open up avenues for identifying high-risk individuals and designing novel therapeutic strategies based on precise targeting of these genes.

Keywords: Cytokines; Genetics; Innate immunity; Otitis media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cytokines / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Otitis Media / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence


  • Cytokines