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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 Feb;147(2):314-20.

Increased lower airways responsiveness associated with sinusitis in a rabbit model.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine, Denver, Colorado 80206.


The association between sinusitis and asthma has been clinically recognized, but its precise nature is controversial. We studied the relationship between sinusitis and lower airways function in a rabbit model of sterile maxillary sinusitis induced by the chemotactic complement fragment C5a des arg. Animals kept in a head-up position following experimental sinusitis demonstrated a significant increase in airways responsiveness (AWR) to histamine. In contrast, animals of which the sinuses were injected with a saline diluent and in which no sinus inflammation developed had no increase in AWR. Experiments were subsequently carried out to investigate some of the potential mechanisms for these observations. A group of rabbits in which a distal site of inflammation was induced did not demonstrate increased AWR. Likewise, when sinus inflammation was established but passage of fluid to the lower airways was prevented, either by intubation or by head-down positioning, there was no change in AWR. A fourth experiment was designed to decrease complement factor activity before placing the animals in a head-up position. This led to the same degree of increased AWR. Neither the histology nor the bronchoalveolar lavage data demonstrated significant lower airways inflammation in any group. We conclude that sterile sinusitis can increase lower airways responsiveness to histamine in a rabbit model. The most likely mechanism for this effect is the postnasal dripping of cells or cell products into the lower airway. The role of a nasobronchial reflex or inflammatory mediator absorption could not be demonstrated in this model.

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