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Clin Exp Allergy. 1992 Jul;22(7):701-10.

Dynamics of mast cells in the nasal mucosa of patients with allergic rhinitis and non-allergic controls: a biopsy study.

Author information

1
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

Mast cell degranulation is thought to be an important component of the pathogenesis of allergic rhinitis. Quantitative studies on mast cells in nasal mucosa after allergen exposure have given widely divergent results, ranging from an overall decrease via redistribution to an overall increase. We investigated this problem by employing a combination of anti-IgE and toluidine blue staining of biopsy specimens. In allergic patients anti-IgE was found to identify all mast cells and toluidine blue to detect mast cells that were not (totally) degranulated. The study was composed of two parts done in different patient groups. In the first part of the study biopsies were performed in 23 patients with isolated grass-pollen allergy, once during natural provocation in the summer and once in the winter. Biopsies were also performed in 12 controls. Non-allergic controls were found to have the same number of mast cells in the lamina propria as asymptomatic allergic patients. The controls seldom have mast cells in the epithelium. The patients with isolated grass-pollen allergy showed an increase in the numbers of mast cells in the lamina propria during natural provocation and the same seemed to occur in the epithelium as well. During natural provocation almost all of the mast cells in the epithelium and half of those in the lamina propria were degranulated. In the second part of the study 17 patients with isolated grass-pollen allergy and four controls were challenged daily with allergen extract during a 2-week period in the winter. During this period biopsies were performed at eight different occasions, i.e. once before, six occasions during and once after the provocation period. The results of this part of the study showed that during provocation mast cells migrate to the surface of the nasal mucosa, where they become degranulated, and that the pool of mast cells in the lamina propria was apparently replenished by migration of mast cells from the vessels in the lamina propria. The total number of mast cells in the lamina propria remained approximately the same while the mast cells residing in an increasingly thick layer measured from the basal membrane into the lamina propria became degranulated. After 2 weeks, 82% of the mast cells in the lamina propria was degranulated and it was only in the deepest layers that some toluidine blue positive cells were found.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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