Objectives: To quantitate lymphocyte subtypes in sinus tissues harvested from children with chronic sinusitis and coexisting asthma, allergies, and cystic fibrosis during functional endoscopic sinus surgery and compare them with those in normal adult sphenoid sinus mucosa.
Design: Immunohistochemical staining of surgical specimens with monoclonal antibodies against CD4 and CD8 surface antigens.
Setting: Tertiary medical center.
Patients: Thirty-two children who underwent functional endoscopic sinus surgery for chronic sinusitis refractory to medical treatment (median age, 8 years; range, 2-13 years) were divided into 3 groups: 10 with asthma, 15 without asthma, and 7 with cystic fibrosis. Sphenoid sinus mucosa obtained from 10 adults (median age, 70 years) undergoing transsphenoidal hypophysectomy was used as control tissue.
Main outcome measures: Numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ cells in the lamina propria and epithelium of surgical specimens.
Results: Significantly more CD4+ cells were in the sinus mucosa of patients with chronic sinusitis than in the normal sinus mucosa (P < .01), but there was no significant difference in the number of CD8+ cells (P = 4). Patients with chronic sinusitis with asthma, without asthma, and with cystic fibrosis all had increased numbers of CD4+ cells compared with sphenoid mucosa, with the difference reaching statistical significance only in the subgroup with chronic sinusitis without asthma (P < .001). The numbers of CD4+ cells were higher in patients with chronic sinusitis than in the sphenoid mucosa irrespective of allergic status. Significantly more CD4+ than CD8+ cells were in tissues from the patients with chronic sinusitis irrespective of concomitant diseases or allergic status. CD4+ and CD8+ cells were more numerous in the apical portion of the submucosa (immediately beneath the epithelium) than in the basal portion both in patients with chronic sinusitis and in normal sphenoid tissue.
Conclusions: Children with chronic sinusitis have predominance of CD4+ cells in the sinus mucosa as compared with normal sphenoid tissue. This contrasts with published results in adults with chromic sinusitis, in whom CD8+ cells predominate in nasal polyps and the submucosa, possibly reflecting a difference in the immunologic response of children and adults.