Background: Although it is not proven, one factor considered important in the development of sinusitis is allergic rhinitis.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether ongoing allergic rhinitis enhances the infection and inflammation associated with Streptococcus pneumoniae acute sinus infection.
Methods: BALB/c mice were sensitized to ovalbumin by intraperitoneal injection. After infection of the sinuses by S pneumoniae, either with or without concomitant administration of ovalbumin to induce allergic inflammation, mice were killed at various times and their heads were prepared for histologic evaluation of the sinuses.
Results: Mice became allergic to ovalbumin and developed eosinophilia in the sinus and lung cavities in response to ovalbumin administration to each of the respective cavities. In comparison with controls, the mice with ongoing nasal allergic inflammation that were inoculated with S pneumoniae had significantly more bacteria recovered at sacrifice and had significantly more inflammation, as indicated by neutrophil, eosinophil, and mononuclear influx into the sinus mucosa. The percentage of the sinus area occupied by neutrophil clusters was also increased after infection in the allergic mice in comparison with the control mice.
Conclusion: Our data demonstrate that mice can be sensitized to ovalbumin and develop a localized allergic reaction in the skin, nose, or lung. An ongoing local allergic response augments bacterial infection in these animals. We also demonstrate that allergic sensitization alone, allergen exposure alone, or an allergic response at a distal site, the lung, does not augment the sinus infection.