Comparison of nasal mucosal responsiveness to neuronal stimulation in non-allergic and allergic rhinitis: effects of capsaicin nasal challenge

Authors

  • Sanico,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
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  • Philip,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
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  • Proud,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
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  • Naclerio,

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
    2. Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
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  • Togias

    1. Department of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA,
    2. Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA
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Togias Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Centre, Unit Office 7, 5501 Hopkins Bayview Circle, Baltimore, MD 21224–6801 USA.

Abstract

Background

Neuronal involvement has been implicated in the pathophysiology of non-allergic and allergic rhinitis, contributing to the typical exacerbation of these conditions upon exposure to non-specific environmental irritants.

Objectives

To determine if non-allergic and allergic rhinitis are characterized by increased responsiveness of the nasal mucosa to sensorineural stimulation.

Methods

Nasal challenges with capsaicin and its vehicle were performed in three groups of subjects — non-allergic rhinitics, perennial allergic rhinitics, and healthy controls — and resultant symptom scores, glandular secretion reflected by lactoferrin levels, and plasma extravasation reflected by albumin levels in nasal lavage fluid were compared.

Results

Capsaicin-sensitive nerve stimulation produced increases in symptom scores and lactoferrin levels which were similar among the three groups of subjects. On the other hand, only the group of subjects with allergic rhinitis demonstrated a significant capsaicin-induced increase in albumin levels and a trend in total protein levels.

Conclusions

We conclude that nonallergic rhinitis is not characterized by increased responsiveness of capsaicin-sensitive nerve fibres; while allergic rhinitis is marked by hyperresponsiveness manifested as increased albumin leakage in nasal fluids. This may reflect the activity of an axonal reflex to sensorineural stimulation.

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