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Lab Invest. 2016 Sep;96(9):981-93. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2016.72. Epub 2016 Jun 20.

Denervation of nasal mucosa induced by posterior nasal neurectomy suppresses nasal secretion, not hypersensitivity, in an allergic rhinitis rat model.

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Department of Otolaryngology, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


The posterior nasal nerve is the dominant source of the parasympathetic, sympathetic, and sensory fibers that innervate the nasal respiratory mucosa. Therefore, a posterior nasal neurectomy (PNN) is thought to induce denervation of the nasal mucosa and relieve the nasal symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, the underlying mechanisms and therapeutic action of PNN remain unknown. To investigate the impact of PNN-induced denervation of the nasal mucosa on allergic rhinitis, we developed a rat model of PNN and examined the effects of PNN on allergic rhinitis in ovalbumin-sensitized rats. This rat model of PNN was characterized by the depletion of nerve fibers, choline acetyltransferase, and neuropeptides (eg, substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, vasoactive intestinal peptide, and neuropeptide Y) in the nasal respiratory mucosa. These animals exhibited nasal gland and goblet cell hypertrophy in the septal mucosa and atrophy of the submucosal gland in the lateral nasal wall, as well as reduced nasal secretion due to deficient acetylcholine synthesis. In an ovalbumin-sensitized model of allergic rhinitis, PNN also induced the depletion of nerve fibers, choline acetyltransferase, and neuropeptides in the nasal mucosa and suppressed nasal secretion. However, PNN did not affect mucosal thickening, eosinophil and mast cell infiltration, interleukin-4 and interferon-γ mRNA expression, and allergic symptoms (ie, sneezing and nasal scratching). These results suggest that the peripheral nerves and corresponding neuropeptides regulate nasal secretion, but not hypersensitivity, in allergic rhinitis, and that allergic rhinitis-related mucosal reactions occur in a highly denervated mucosa after PNN. Posterior nasal neurectomy may be a therapeutic option for the treatment of hyperrhinorrhea, but not allergic rhinitis hypersensitivity.

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