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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995 Dec;96(6 Pt 1):971-9.

Minimal persistent inflammation is present at mucosal level in patients with asymptomatic rhinitis and mite allergy.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genoa, Italy.


The natural exposure to house dust mites causes sensitization in genetically susceptible patients. Persistent exposure of sensitized patients causes chronic inflammation, and consequently, hyperreactivity, thus promoting the development of clinical features. Recently, intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1)/CD54 expression on epithelial cells triggered by allergen has been demonstrated and related to the inflammation caused by the allergic reaction. Therefore we evaluated the possible presence of inflammation (i.e., inflammatory cell infiltrate and ICAM-1/CD54 expression on epithelium) at conjunctival and nasal levels in patients with asymptomatic allergic rhinitis caused by mites, in their relatives living in the same environment, and in healthy volunteers. In addition, the possible relationship between inflammation and house dust mite allergen exposure was evaluated. Conjunctival and nasal scrapings of allergic subjects enrolled in the study showed many inflammatory cells. A mild ICAM-1/CD54 expression on conjunctival and nasal epithelium was detectable in allergic subjects, whereas relatives and healthy volunteers showed few inflammatory cells and no ICAM-1/CD54 expression on epithelial cells. A detectable level of house dust mite, sufficient to cause sensitization, was found in all houses. This study demonstrates a minimal persistent inflammation at conjunctival and nasal levels constantly detectable in patients without symptoms who are sensitized to mites and continuously exposed to the natural allergens.

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