Background: Upper airway inflammatory diseases are associated with abnormal expression of nasal epithelial forkhead-box J1 (FOXJ1) which regulates motile cilia formation. We sought to investigate whether aberrant FOXJ1 localizations correlate with the disease severity and the co-existence of allergic rhinitis (AR) or asthma in patients with nasal polyps (NPs).
Methods: We elucidated localization patterns of FOXJ1 by performing immunofluorescence assays in nasal specimens and cytospin samples from controls and patients with NPs. We also assayed mRNA expression levels of FOXJ1 by using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Four localization patterns [normal (N), intermediate (I), mislocalization (M), and absence (A)] were defined. A semi-quantitative scoring system was applied for demonstrating FOXJ1 localization in five areas per paraffin section, with individual sections being scored between 0 and 2.
Results: FOXJ1 localization score was significantly higher in samples from NPs than in controls (P < 0.001). Elevated FOXJ1 localization scores and down-regulation of FOXJ1 mRNA levels were observed in NPs with co-existing AR or asthma (all P < 0.05). Moreover, FOXJ1 localization scores positively correlated with Lund-Mackay score (r = 0.362, P = 0.007). Of primary cytospin samples, the mean percentage of patients with FOXJ1 localization patterns N, I, M and A was 15.0%, 3.3%, 53.3% and 28.3% in NPs, and 82.5%, 5.0%, 5.0% and 7.5% in controls, respectively (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Aberrant localization of FOXJ1 correlates with the severity and co-existence of AR or asthma in patients with NPs, and might be a novel target for assessment and intervention in NPs.
Keywords: Cilia; Disease severity; Forkhead-box J1; Mislocalization; Nasal polyps.