Evidence for distinct cytokine expression in allergic versus nonallergic chronic sinusitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995 Oct;96(4):537-44. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(95)70298-9.


Background: The purpose of this study was to characterize the relationship between tissue cytokine expression and the cellular infiltrate present in chronic hyperplastic sinusitis with nasal polyposis (CHS/NP) and to compare the immunopathology and cytokine profile of patients with allergy versus patients without allergy.

Methods: Nasal polyp tissue samples from 12 patients with CHS/NP and nasal turbinate biopsy specimens from 10 normal control patients were examined for the expression of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-2, and interferon (IFN)-gamma cytokine messenger RNA (mRNA) species by in situ hybridization. These data were analyzed in conjunction with data previously reported for the cytokine mRNA species granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), IL-3, and IL-5 and the immunocytochemical profile of the inflammatory cell infiltrate. Patients with allergy were distinguished from those without allergy on the basis of allergy skin tests.

Results: Tissue eosinophilia was a prominent feature of both allergic and nonallergic CHS/NP and correlated in both subgroups with the density of GM-CSF and IL-3 mRNA+ cells. In comparison with normal controls, patients with allergic CHS/NP had significantly higher CHS/NP had significantly higher tissue densities of GM-CSF, IL-3, IL-4, and IL-5 (p < or = 0.025). In contrast, patients with nonallergic CHS/NP had significantly higher tissue densities of GM-CSF, IL-3, and IFN-gamma (p < or = 0.001). The allergic and nonallergic subgroups showed distinct cytokine profiles with the most distinguishing cytokines of the allergic subgroup being IL-4 (p = 0.001) and IL-5 (p = 0.017) and of the nonallergic subgroup being IFN-gamma (p = 0.004). Furthermore, patients with allergic CHS/NP showed an increased density of CD3+ T lymphocytes compared with either controls or patients with nonallergic CHS/NP (p = 0.03). The density of CD3+ T lymphocytes was the only significant difference between patients with allergic and nonallergic CHS/NP. A clinical history of aspirin sensitivity was strongly correlated with nonallergic CHS/NP, as well as the nonallergic CHS/NP profile of cytokines, including IFN-gamma.

Conclusion: We conclude that distinct mechanisms of eosinophilia exist in patients with allergic versus nonallergic CHS/NP. The allergic mechanism involves production of TH2-type cytokines, including GM-CSF, IL-3, IL-4, and IL-5, by infiltrating T lymphocytes. The nonallergic mechanism remains unknown but does involve production of GM-CSF, IL-3, and IFN-gamma. However, nonallergic eosinophilia is independent of IL-4 and IL-5, cytokines that contribute to tissue eosinophilia in allergic inflammation. Aspirin sensitivity is strongly correlated with nonallergic CHS/NP and production of the nonallergic CHS/NP profile of cytokines, including IFN-gamma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aspirin / immunology
  • Cell Movement
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Eosinophilia / pathology
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nasal Polyps / complications
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sinusitis / complications
  • Sinusitis / etiology*
  • Sinusitis / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Aspirin