Lower airways remodeling in nonasthmatic subjects with allergic rhinitis

Lab Invest. 1996 Nov;75(5):735-44.


We analyzed by immunohistochemistry the distribution of types I, II, III, IV, V, and VII collagens, laminin, and fibronectin in the bronchial biopsy specimens of nonasthmatic subjects with seasonal allergic rhinitis (n = 8) and compared these results with those found in mild stable allergic asthmatics (n = 6) and normal controls (n = 5). The content of type I and III collagens was increased in rhinitic subjects compared with controls. These collagens were focally deposited in the reticular basement membrane area. Three subjects with allergic rhinitis had no fibronectin deposition in their basement membrane, as in controls, whereas the other five had a focal fibronectin deposition. In asthmatic patients, type I and III collagens and fibronectin were more abundant and more uniformly distributed underneath the basement membrane than they were in rhinitic subjects. Expression of type II, IV, V, and VII collagens and laminin were similar in the three groups. Electron microscopic and immunohistochemical analyses of bronchial mucosa showed a network of myofibroblasts beneath the epithelium in rhinitis as in asthma subjects. These data show that the irregularly distributed subepithelial fibrosis observed in subjects with allergic rhinitis results from the deposition of type I and III collagens and fibronectin, probably produced by bronchial myofibroblasts. These results suggest the presence of an active structural remodeling in the lower airways of allergic rhinitic subjects that is similar in nature to that seen in asthma, although less marked.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / pathology*
  • Basement Membrane / metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Bronchi / pathology
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle, Smooth / cytology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / metabolism
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / pathology*
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / metabolism
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / pathology*


  • Fibronectins
  • Collagen