Objective: To investigate the specificity of antibodies to heat-shock protein 70 (HSP70) in patients with idiopathic, progressive, bilateral sensorineural hearing loss (IPBSNHL) and Meniere disease. Study Design: Test immunoreactivity of patients' sera using recombinant human (rh) and bovine (rb) HSP70, as well as segments representing different regions of bovine HSP70 as antigen. Methods: Sera were tested by Western blotting. Results: Of 52 patients with IPBSNHL, 40 sera reacted only with rbHSP70; 12 reacted with both rbHSP70 and rhHSP70. Sera from 13 patients with IPBSNHL and from 8 with Meniere disease were tested on the panel of bovine HSP70 segments. Eleven and 7 samples, respectively, reacted with amino acid segment 427-461 from the carboxy (C)-terminal region of the molecule. Conclusion: In IPBSNHL and Meniere disease, antibodies are directed primarily against an epitope(s) within the C-terminal region of HSP70 where diversity in sequence among different species, including possible pathogens, is greatest. These findings may provide clues to the pathogenesis or specific serodiagnosis (or both) of diseases of the inner ear.
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