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Keywords:

  • allergic rhinitis;
  • eosinophils;
  • epithelium;
  • mast cells;
  • nasal mucosa;
  • nerve growth factor;
  • submucosal glands

Background and objectives:  Nerve growth factor (NGF) and NGF receptors have been shown to be expressed by structural and infiltrating inflammatory cells in the human allergic bronchial mucosa and conjunctiva. In the nose, a positive immunostaining for NGF was recently reported in biopsies of subjects undergoing surgery for refractory nasal obstruction. This study was aimed at studying by immunohistochemistry NGF expression and localization in the nasal mucosa from subjects with moderate/severe persistent allergic rhinitis and natural allergen exposure.

Methods:  Immunostaining for NGF, tryptase and eosinophil cationic protein was performed in human nasal turbinate sections of 25 patients affected by persistent allergic rhinitis and sensitization to Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus.

Results:  NGF was consistently expressed in the epithelium and in the submucosa of allergic rhinitic subjects, preferentially localized in eosinophils and mast cells. A strong NGF immunostaining was found in mucous cells of the epithelial lining and in the submucosal glands.

Conclusions:  As previously shown for allergic asthma and allergic conjunctivitis, NGF is also detectable in the nasal mucosa of patients with persistent allergic rhinitis. The preferential NGF localization in mucous cells of the epithelial lining and in the submucosal glands suggests a possible role for NGF in modulating secretion in allergic rhinitis and possibly other allergic diseases.