The mediators released during the allergic inflammatory reaction induce the clinical symptoms of the allergic disease and although there have been numerous studies investigating mediator release in allergen challenge models of allergic rhinitis very few have extended this approach to the study of natural disease.
The aim of this investigation was therefore to measure mast cell and eosinophil mediator levels and indices of vascular permeability in naturally occurring rhinitis.
Three groups of subjects were studied, normal non-rhinitics, seasonal allergic rhinitics in and out of the grass pollen season and perennial allergic rhinitics. Mediators were recovered using the technique of nasal lavage and the levels of tryptase, histamine, eosinophil cationic protein and albumin were determined. In addition, eosinophils were enumerated in nasal smears as an indices of underlying inflammation.
The levels of tryptase, eosinophil cationic protein and albumin were significantly higher in the lavage recovered from the symptomatic seasonal allergic rhinitics than when asymptomatic (P = 0.05, P = 0.003, P = 0.009, respectively). These levels of eosinophil cationic protein and albumin were also significantly higher than those of the normal non-rhinitics (P = 0.0008, P = 0.0.003, respectively). In the perennial allergic rhinitics the levels of tryptase, eosinophil cationic protein and albumin were higher than the normal non-rhinitics (P < 0.0001, P = 0.0003, P = 0.0001, respectively). The levels of tryptase and histamine were higher in the perennial allergic rhinitics than the seasonal allergic rhinitics (P = 0.0003, P = 0.006, respectively). These changes in mediator levels were accompanied by a significant influx of eosinophils into the nasal mucosa of both the symptomatic seasonal rhinitics, compared with asymptomatic (P = 0.04) and normal controls (P = 0.0006) and the perennial rhinitics compared to normal controls (P = 0.03).
These results indicate that in both naturally occurring seasonal allergic rhinitis and perennial allergic rhinitis mast cell and eosinophil activation occurs and this is accompanied by an increase in vascular permeability. These measurements in lavage fluid provide a method of monitoring the mucosal cellular events in response to therapy.