Background Patients with allergic rhinitis (AR) frequently develop asthma. This initiating inflammation in the lower airways may result in increased levels of inflammatory mediators such as adenosine in the exhaled breath.
Objective We compared adenosine levels in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and both exhaled and nasal nitric oxide (NO) levels of AR patients and healthy control subjects. We also tested whether inhalation through inflamed nasal cavity during EBC sampling influences adenosine concentrations in exhaled air.
Methods Exhaled and nasal NO levels were measured and EBC samples (at oral inhalation) were collected from 27 patients and 15 healthy controls. EBC collection was repeated after 15 min with subjects inhaling through their nose. Adenosine was measured by HPLC and NO was determined by chemiluminescence.
Results The concentration of EBC adenosine was higher in patients with AR than in healthy controls (12.4±1.3 nm vs. 6.5±0.7 nm, P=0.0019) and this was accompanied by an increase in the concentration of exhaled NO (10.2±1.3 ppb vs. 5.3±0.5 ppb; P=0.0099, respectively). No difference in nasal NO was detected. EBC adenosine concentration showed a significant positive correlation with the level of exhaled NO. In contrast to healthy control subjects, patients with rhinitis had higher levels of exhaled adenosine when inhaling via the nose instead of the mouth (17.7±2.8 nm, P=0.007).
Conclusion When compared with healthy subjects, patients with AR exhibit an increased concentration of exhaled adenosine and a related increase in exhaled NO concentration. EBC adenosine is further increased when rhinitis patients inhale through their nose than via their mouth. Our data suggest that non-asthmatic patients with rhinitis may have subclinical inflammation in their lower airways.
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