Clinical and Experimental Allergy vol:31 issue:5 pages:782-790
BACKGROUND: Allergic rhinitis is a risk factor for the development of asthma. About 80% of asthmatic patients also have rhinitis. However, the pattern of induction of allergic rhinitis and asthma remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the development of upper airway inflammation in mice during the development of an asthma-like disease and after an acute allergen provocation. METHODS: BALB-c mice were sensitized intraperitoneally (i.p) to ovalbumin (OA, days 1-13) and were challenged with aerosols of either OA or saline on 8 consecutive days (days 33-40). In a second experiment, chronic exposure for 8 days was followed by 10 days of rest and then an acute nebulized allergen provocation was performed (day 50). Inflammatory parameters were investigated at different time-points. RESULTS: Upper and lower eosinophilic airway inflammation were simultaneously induced in the course of repeated inhalations of nebulized OA, as shown by analyses of nasal and broncho-alveolar lavage fluids and histological sections of the nose and bronchi. Mice that developed bronchial hyper-responsiveness also had increased thickness of the nasal mucosa on magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans. When chronic exposure was followed by acute allergen provocation, the latter caused a systemic increase in IL-5 levels, with a concomitant rise in blood and airway eosinophils, primarily in the nose. CONCLUSIONS: Simultaneous induction of eosinophilic inflammation in the nose and lungs was found in a mouse model of respiratory allergy. These findings support the viewpoint that upper and lower airway disease represent a continuum of inflammation involving one common airway and provide evidence for the concept of global airway inflammation after inhalation of allergen.