Cellular infiltration and cytokine mRNA expression in perennial allergic rhinitis

Allergy. 1999 Apr;54(4):338-45. doi: 10.1034/j.1398-9995.1999.00957.x.


Background: Allergen challenge in allergic rhinitis patients leads to local eosinophilia and Th2-type cytokine expression. Natural exposure to grass pollen is additionally characterized by epithelial mast-cell infiltration. We hypothesized that perennial allergic rhinitis is also associated with T-cell and eosinophil infiltration of the nasal mucosa, local Th2-type cytokine expression, and increased numbers of nasal epithelial mast cells.

Methods: Nasal biopsies from perennial allergic rhinitis patients and controls were analysed by immunocytochemistry for different cell populations and in situ hybridization for cytokine mRNA-expressing cells.

Results: Perennial allergic rhinitis was associated with increased numbers of submucosal CD3+ T cells (P=0.05), EG2+ activated eosinophils (P=0.01), and CD68+ macrophages (P=0.01) compared to controls. Epithelial, but not submucosal, tryptase-positive mast cells were also elevated in rhinitics compared to controls (P=0.01). The numbers of cells expressing interleukin (IL)-5 were higher (P=0.01) and the numbers of cells expressing IL-2 were lower (P=0.04) in rhinitic patients than controls. There were no significant differences for either IL-4 or interferon-gamma between the groups.

Conclusions: Perennial allergic rhinitis is characterized by mast-cell migration into the epithelium; submucosal infiltration by T cells, eosinophils, and macrophages; and an imbalance in local T-cell cytokine production in favour of enhanced IL-5 and reduced IL-2 expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Eosinophils / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / immunology
  • Nasal Mucosa / immunology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • CD3 Complex
  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Interleukin-2