Meniere's disease is an inner ear disorder that can manifest as fluctuating vertigo, sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, and aural fullness. However, the pathologic mechanism of Meniere's disease is still unclear. In this study, we evaluated autoimmunity as a potential cause of Meniere's disease.
In addition we tried to find useful biomarker candidates for diagnosis. We investigated the protein composition of human inner ear fluid using liquid column mass spectrometry, the autoimmune reaction between circulating autoantibodies in patient serum and multiple antigens using the Protoarray system, the immune reaction between patient serum and mouse inner ear tissues using western blot analysis. Nine proteins, including immunoglobulin and its variants and interferon regulatory factor 7, were found only in the inner ear fluid of patients with Meniere's disease. Enhanced immune reactions with 18 candidate antigens were detected in patients with Meniere's disease in Protoarray analysis; levels of 8 of these antigens were more than 10-fold higher in patients than in controls. Antigen-antibody reactions between mouse inner ear proteins with molecular weights of 23–48 kDa and 63–75 kDa and patient sera were detected in 8 patients. These findings suggest that autoimmunity could be one of the pathologic mechanisms behind Meniere's disease. Multiple autoantibodies and antigens may be involved in the autoimmune reaction. Specific antigens that caused immune reactions with patient's serum in Protoarray analysis can be candidates for the diagnostic biomarkers of Meniere's disease.