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An evaluation of peripheral blood eosinophil/basophil progenitors following nasal allergen challenge in patients with allergic rhinitis


Dr Andrew M. Wilson, Department of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Ninewells Hospital & Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, Scotland, UK. E-mail:


Objective To evaluate the effect of a single nasal allergen challenge on peripheral blood eosinophil/basophil (Eo/B) progenitor cells and induced sputum eosinophil counts in subjects with allergic rhinitis.

Methods Sixteen adults entered a sequential nasal control and allergen challenge study, outside the pollen season. Blind assessment of peripheral blood Eo/B progenitor colony forming units (CFU), induced sputum and nasal lavage cell counts was made before and 24 h after both challenges. Subjects recorded their rhinitis symptoms and nasal peak inspiratory flow, hourly at home, following both challenges.

Results When comparing the values 24 h after the control vs. the allergen challenge, there were no significant differences in Eo/B progenitor CFU (control (mean, SD): 3.6 (1.0)/106 cells; allergen: 4.4 (1.1)/106 cells) or sputum eosinophils (control (median, inter-quartile range): 1.0 (0.3–1.7)%; allergen: 0.7 (0.0–1.3)%) despite a significant increase in the percentage (median (inter-quartile range) of eosinophils in nasal lavage (control: 0.6 (0.1–0.9)%; allergen; 1.9 (0.9–8.1)% and significant worsening of nasal peak inspiratory flow and rhinitis symptoms.

Conclusions Despite a significant increase in nasal symptoms and lavage eosinophil counts, a single nasal allergen challenge was not sufficient to elicit a measurable haemopoietic response in circulation, or an increase in sputum eosinophil counts.