Objective: Allergic rhinitis has been frequently associated with both acute and chronic sinusitis. Previous studies have shown an influx of eosinophils into the maxillary sinus after nasal challenge with allergen. The objective of this study was to determine, in humans, if the development of seasonal allergic inflammation, secondary to natural allergen exposure, leads to similar inflammation within the maxillary sinus.
Study design: Prospective, longitudinal study. Setting. Academic medical center and research laboratory.
Subjects and methods: Eighteen subjects were evaluated in and out of the ragweed allergy season using subjective measures (nasal symptoms, quality of life), nasal secretory response to methacholine challenge, and evaluation of biomarkers in nasal and sinus lavages.
Results: The subjects became symptomatic during the season and reported worse quality of life and increased nasal reactivity to methacholine. The total number of eosinophils obtained by nasal lavage during the season (median= 35,691) was significantly higher compared with out of season (median = 2811, P ≤ .02). Similarly, there were significantly more eosinophils, albeit to a lesser magnitude, in the maxillary sinus during the season (median = 4248) compared with the out-of-season samples (median = 370, P ≤ .02).
Conclusion: The authors provide evidence that natural exposure to pollen during an individual's allergy season leads to both nasal and sinus inflammation, strengthening the association between allergic rhinitis and sinusitis. The mechanism of this inflammatory response needs to be elucidated.