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Original Article


Early decrease in nasal eosinophil proportion after nasal allergen challenge correlates with baseline
bronchial reactivity to methacholine in children sensitized to house dust mites


M. Silvestri1, E. Battistini1, A.-C. Defilippi1, F. Sabatini1, R. Sale1,S. Pecora2, and G. A. Rossi1

1 Pulmonary Dept., G. Gaslini Institute, Largo G. Gaslini, 5, 16148, Genoa, Italy
2 Alk-Abellò S.p.A., Via Falzarego,8, 20021, Bollate-Milan, Italy

J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2005; Vol. 15(4): 266-276



: Allergic rhinitis is induced by an IgE-mediated inflammation after allergen exposure of the membranes lining the nose which, in predisposed individuals, may constitute a risk factor for the occurrence of asthma.

Objective: To detect early changes in nasal inflammation after allergen exposure, 11 children [9.0 (7, 11) yrs], sensitized to house dust mites (HDM), with rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma and an age- and gender-matched control group (Ctr) were studied.

Methods: The following parameters were evaluated: i) pulmonary function; ii) bronchial reactivity to methacholine (MCh), expressed as Pd20MCh; iii) nasal brushing (NB) ‘at baseline’ and, on a separate day, 30 min after nasal allergen challenge (NAC). On NBs, the following markers of inflammation were evaluated: a) neutrophil and eosinophil proportion, b) ‘intact to degranulated eosinophil’ ratio, and c) expression of intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1 and HLA-DR by nasal epithelial cells.

Results: ‘At baseline’, allergic children showed elevated nasal eosinophilia and increased ICAM-1 and HLA-DR expression (p<0.05), as compared to Ctr. In allergic children, nasal eosinophilia correlated with Pd20MCh (p=0.002). The significant decrease in nasal eosinophilia observed after NAC (p=0.002) was associated with a significant decrease in the ‘intact to degranulated eosinophil’ ratio (p=0.001). Interestingly, correlations were still present between Pd20MCh and ‘post NAC’ eosinophilia (p=0.004) or the NAC-induced decrease in eosinophilia (p=0.010).

Conclusions: In children sensitized to HDM, experimental allergen exposure is followed by an early depletion of nasal eosinophils. The correlation between allergen-induced changes in nasal eosinophilia and bronchial reactivity to MCh further supports the concept of a tight link between upper and lower respiratory tract involvement in respiratory allergy.

Key words: Nasal eosinophils, bronchial hyperreactivity, allergen challenge, childhood, rhinoconjunctivitis, allergic asthma, house dust mites.