Background: Inhalation of hot, humid air (HHA: 37 degrees C, > 95% relative humidity (RH)) partially inhibits the early response to nasal challenge with antigen.
Objective: To investigate whether HHA inhibited the late-phase response to nasal challenge with antigen and increased hyper-responsiveness of the nasal mucosa to histamine.
Methods: Twenty subjects with seasonal allergic rhinitis, outside of their allergy season, participated in a randomized, 2-way cross-over study. The subjects continuously breathed room air (25 degrees C, 30% RH) or HHA delivered via a face mask during the entire experiment. Subjects were challenged intranasally with antigen 1 h after beginning conditioning. The response was monitored by symptoms and nasal lavage at 2-h intervals after the last antigen challenge. Eight hours after antigen challenge, nasal challenge with histamine was performed.
Results: Exposure to HHA significantly increased nasal mucosal temperature from baseline without affecting nasal secretion osmolality. HHA significantly inhibited antigen-induced sneezes, congestion, pruritus, and human serum albumin levels during the early response to antigen challenge. HHA exposure, however, was associated with an 8-fold increase in the eosinophil influx and a 15-fold increase in the levels of eosinophil cationic protein during the late-phase response compared to room air. There were no significant differences in nasal hyper-responsiveness to histamine during either exposure.
Conclusion: HHA partially decreases the early response to nasal challenge with antigen, but dramatically increases eosinophil influx. Increasing eosinophil number had no effects on the hyper-responsiveness to histamine. We speculate that the physical conditions of air differentially impact the stages of allergic inflammation.