Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) has been proposed as a feature of pathogenesis of eosinophilic upper airway inflammation such as allergic rhinitis (AR). The measurement system for upper AHR (UAHR) in rodents is poorly developed, although measurements of nasal resistance have been reported. Here we assessed UAHR by direct measurement of swelling of the nasal mucosa induced by intranasal methacholine (MCh) using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). Micro-CT analysis was performed in both naïve and ovalbumin-induced AR mice following intranasal administration of MCh. The nasal cavity was segmented into two-dimensional horizontal and axial planes, and the data for nasal mucosa were acquired for the region of interest threshold. Then, a ratio between the nasal mucosa area and nasal cavity area was calculated as nasal mucosa index. Using our novel method, nasal cavity structure was clearly identified on micro-CT, and dose-dependent increased swelling of the nasal mucosa was observed upon MCh treatment. Moreover, the nasal mucosa index was significantly increased in AR mice compared to controls following MCh treatment, while ovalbumin administration did not affect swelling of the nasal mucosa in either group. This UAHR following MCh treatment was completely reversed by pretreatment with glucocorticoids. This novel approach using micro-CT for investigating UAHR reflects a precise assessment system for swelling of the nasal mucosa following MCh treatment; it not only sheds light on the mechanism of AR but also contributes to the development of new therapeutic drugs in AR patients.
Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR); and nasal resistance; eosinophilic airway inflammation; micro-CT.