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Eosinophilia in nasal polyposis: its objective quantification and clinical relevance


Andreas O. H. Gerstner, Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Str. 25, D-53105 Bonn, Germany. E-mail:


Background Eosinophilia within nasal polyps is often taken as a criterion for adjuvant medical treatment postoperatively such as topical steroids.

Objective This study was performed in order to validate a new technique for objective quantification of eosinophilia by using laser scanning cytometry (LSC), to compare these results with manual scoring and routine histopathology, and to correlate them with the history of allergy or recurrence.

Methods LSC was used for semi-automated analysis of single-cell preparations from representative ethmoidal polyps obtained during routine paranasal sinus surgery (n=41). This microscope-based instrument scans the cells after immobilization of cells on a glass slide and after triple staining of cytokeratin, eosinophilic granula, and DNA. The location of each cell is stored with the fluorescence data. Therefore, the morphology of every cell can be documented by re-staining with haemotoxylin and eosin and re-localization on the slide. Subsequently, slides were subjected to manual scoring. The remaining polyps were analysed by routine histopathology.

Results Data from LSC and manual scoring showed good correlation (r=0.81, P<0.001), whereas there were discrepancies with histopathology. Eosinophilia scored by LSC and histopathology was neither correlated with the history of allergy nor with recurrence as determined by Fisher's exact test independent of the definition of eosinophilia (geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted2%, geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted3%, or geqslant R: gt-or-equal, slanted5% of all cells).

Conclusion Scoring eosinophilia by LSC in comparison with histopathology does not contribute to a more reliable basis for adjuvant medical therapy in nasal polyposis. Instead, functional parameters (cytokine production, apoptosis) may serve better.

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