• aspirin sensitivity;
  • epithelial cells;
  • mast cells;
  • nasal polyps;
  • stem cell factor

Mast cells constitute a significant proportion of cells infiltrating nasal polyp tissue, and epithelial cells may release stem cell factor (SCF), a cytokine with chemotactic and survival activity for mast cells. We aimed to assess the expression of SCF in human nasal polyp epithelial cells (NPECs) as related to patients’ clinical phenotypes. Nasal polyp tissues were obtained from 29 patients [including nine with aspirin (ASA)-hypersensitivity and 12 with bronchial asthma] undergoing polypectomy for nasal obstruction. Epithelial cells were obtained following 6-week culture of nasal polyps explants. The SCF released into the culture supernatant was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and total SCF mRNA in the polyp tissue was determined by semiquantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). For the whole group of patients, the number of polypectomies correlated with expression of SCF mRNA (r = 0.62; P < 0.005), SCF protein in the NPECs supernatants (r = 0.39; P < 0.05) and with density of mast cells in epithelial layer (r = 0.37; P < 0.05) and stromal layer (r = 0.5; P < 0.01) of nasal polyps. The SCF/β-actin mRNA ratios were significantly higher in ASA-hypersensitive (AH) asthmatics (median 0.97, range: 0.8–1.5) when compared with ASA-tolerant (AT) patients (median 0.5, range: 0.1–0.7; P < 0.001). The SCF protein concentration in NPEC supernatants was also significantly higher in AH asthmatics (median 1.10 pg/μg DNA, range: 0.4–1.9) when compared with AT patients (median 0.1 pg/μg DNA, range: 0.02–1.2; P < 0.001). In the subpopulation of ASA-sensitive asthmatics the number of poypectomies correlated also with the density of mast cells and eosinophils in the polyp tissue.