Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

The Price of Immune Responses and the Role of Vitamin D in the Inner Ear

Büki, Béla*; Jünger, Heinz*; Zhang, Yan; Lundberg, Yunxia Wang

doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000002258

Objective: In this review the authors discuss evidence from the literature concerning vitamin D and temporal bone diseases (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo [BPPV], Menière's disease [MD], vestibular neuritis, idiopathic facial paralysis, idiopathic acute hearing loss). Common features shared by Menière's disease, glaucoma, and the possible influence by vitamin D are briefly discussed.

Data Sources, Study Selection: Publications from 1970 until recent times have been reviewed according to a keyword search (see above) in PubMed.

Conclusions: MD, BPPV, vestibular neuritis, idiopathic facial paralysis, idiopathic acute hearing loss may all have several etiological factors, but a common feature of the current theories is that an initial viral infection and a subsequent autoimmune/autoinflammatory reaction might be involved. Additionally, in some of these entities varying degrees of demyelination have been documented. Given the immunomodulatory effect of vitamin D, we postulate that it may play a role in suppressing an eventual postviral autoimmune reaction. This beneficial effect may be enhanced by the antioxidative activity of vitamin D and its potential in stabilizing endothelial cells. The association of vitamin D deficiency with demyelination has already been established in other entities such as multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalitis. Mice without vitamin D receptor show degenerative features in inner ear ganglia, hair cells, as well as otoconia. The authors suggest further studies concerning the role of vitamin D deficiency in diseases of the temporal bone. Additionally, the possible presence and degree of demyelination in these entities will have to be elucidated more systematically in the future.

*Department of Otolaryngology, Karl Landsteiner University Hospital Krems, Krems, Mitterweg, Austria

Vestibular Genetics Laboratory, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Béla Büki, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Otolaryngology, Karl Landsteiner University Hospital Krems, 3500 Krems, Mitterweg 10, Austria; E-mail:,

Y.W.L. was supported by a grant (DC014748) from the National Institutes of Health. For the remaining authors none were declared.

Copyright © 2019 by Otology & Neurotology, Inc. Image copyright © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health/Anatomical Chart Company