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April 1989

Rheologic Studies on Middle Ear Effusions and Their Mucus Glycoproteins

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Physiological Sciences (Mr FitzGerald and Drs Green and Pearson), and Otolaryngology (Dr Birchall), University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (England), The Medical School.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1989;115(4):462-468. doi:10.1001/archotol.1989.01860280060018

• The properties of pooled thick and thin middle ear effusions, from children with otitis media with effusion, were studied by viscometry. Mucus glycoproteins were responsible for effusion viscosity. Their percentage by weight in thick and thin effusions was 25% and 8.2%, respectively. N-acetylcysteine and 0.2 mol/L of mercaptoethanol caused a 39% viscosity drop in a 5-mg/mL glycoprotein solution, whereas S-carboxymethylcysteine had no effect. Treatment of thick effusions with 0.2 mol/L of mercaptoethanol initially caused a viscosity decrease followed by a gradual increase. Higher reducing agent concentrations (0.5 mol/L) caused a more rapid decrease followed by a rapid increase, presumably by causing nonspecific aggregation of reduced protein molecules. These results suggest that the concentration of and the time that a mucolytic is in the middle ear would be of prime importance in achieving the desired decrease in viscosity.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1989;115:462-468)

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