There are some known reasons for chronic dilatory Eustachian tube dysfunction (chronic D-ETD, also known as chronic obstructive tube dysfunction), for example infections, hyperplastic adenoids, or tumors. In many cases though, none of these reasons apply. The question arises whether there might be an autoimmune pathogenesis in patients with idiopathic chronic D-ETD.
The study includes 31 consecutive patients with chronic D-ETD and 92 consecutive blood donors (BD, comparative cohort). The production of antinuclear antibodies (ANA), as an indicator for autoimmune pathologies, was measured in the serum of patients and BD.
ANA titers were significantly higher in patients with chronic D-ETD, compared with BD (p = 0.0027). The results weighted clearly toward higher ANA titers in younger patients. A comparison of ANA titers in patients and BD aged less than 40 years showed a significant difference (p = 0.0062), whereas it was not significant between patients and BD aged ≥ 40 years (p = 0.19).
The significant results of elevated ANA titers in chronic D-ETD make an autoimmune pathogenesis highly probable, at least in some of the patients concerned. Further research with higher numbers of patients is needed to confirm the hypothesis of an autoimmune chronic D-ETD. A better understanding of etiology and pathogenesis of chronic D-ETD might open up new and perhaps even causal therapeutic strategies.
*Department of Otolaryngology
†Department of Immunology, Hannover Medical School, Hanover, Germany
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Magnus Teschner, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., Department of Otolaryngology, Hannover Medical School, Carl Neuberg Str. 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany; E-mail: email@example.com
The authors disclose no conflicts of interest.