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Topical glucocorticoids downregulate COX-1 positive cells in nasal polyps


F. A. Ebbens MD MSc
Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery
Academic Medical Center
Meibergdreef 9
1105 AZ Amsterdam
the Netherlands


Background:  Influx of inflammatory cells is one of the hallmarks of nasal polyposis. As glucocorticoids (GC) are known to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory effects, these drugs are frequently used in the treatment of the disease. Part of the anti-inflammatory effects of GC is attributed to their interference with prostanoid synthesis. As cyclooxygenases (COX) are key enzymes in the synthesis of both pro- (COX-1, COX-2) and anti-inflammatory prostanoids (COX-2), we investigated the role of topical GC on COX-1, COX-2 and inflammatory markers in nasal polyps (NP).

Methods:  Immunohistochemical analysis of inflammatory markers (CD68, CD117, MBP, elastase, IgE, BB-1, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-6), COX-1 and COX-2 was performed on normal nasal mucosa (NM) (n = 18), non-GC treated NP (n = 27) and topical GC treated NP (n = 12). NP groups were matched for allergy, asthma and ASA intolerance.

Results:  Increased numbers of eosinophils, IL-5+ cells and IgE+ cells and decreased numbers of mastcells are striking features of NP inflammation (P < 0.05). In addition, increased numbers of COX-1+ cells are observed in NP epithelium compared to NM (P < 0.05).

Conclusion:  Topical GC significantly reduce the number of COX-1+ NP cells (P < 0.05), but have no significant effect on COX-2+ NP cells. No significant reduction in the number of eosinophils is observed for GC treated NP. The number of IL-5+ cells is however increased significantly upon GC treatment (P < 0.05).