ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Allergic rhinitis and asthma: The link further unraveled

  • Franciscus Gasthuis en Vlietland

Abstract and Figures

Allergic asthma and rhinitis are manifestations of the atopic syndrome. Although the diseases commonly occur together, it is still unclear why some allergic patients develop only asthma and others only rhinitis. The reason for the variety in clinical expression of allergic airway disease is not known. Besides a genetic predisposition, environmental factors contribute to the development of the allergic phenotype. Local and systemic inflammatory processes also seem to be involved, however, their exact contribution to the clinical picture of airway allergy still remains to be elucidated. Although it is clear that the condition of the upper airways has an impact on lower airway physiology, the mechanisms underlying this relation are far from being resolved. To date, most data point towards a systemic link between upper and lower airways, involving bloodstream and bone marrow. In this article, the latest developments with regard to nasobronchial interaction in allergic airway disease will be reviewed. Epidemiologic, experimental and clinical data underline the importance of a global approach in allergic rhinitis and asthma.
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Allergic rhinitis and asthma: the link further unraveled
Gert-Jan Braunstahl, MD,PhD,* and Peter W. Hellings, MD,PhD
Allergic asthma and rhinitis are manifestations of the atopic
syndrome. Although the diseases commonly occur together, it
is still unclear why some allergic patients develop only asthma
and others only rhinitis. The reason for the variety in clinical
expression of allergic airway disease is not known. Besides a
genetic predisposition, environmental factors contribute to the
development of the allergic phenotype. Local and systemic
inflammatory processes also seem to be involved, however,
their exact contribution to the clinical picture of airway allergy
still remains to be elucidated. Although it is clear that the
condition of the upper airways has an impact on lower airway
physiology, the mechanisms underlying this relation are far
from being resolved. To date, most data point towards a
systemic link between upper and lower airways, involving
bloodstream and bone marrow. In this article, the latest
developments with regard to nasobronchial interaction in
allergic airway disease will be reviewed. Epidemiologic,
experimental and clinical data underline the importance of a
global approach in allergic rhinitis and asthma. Curr Opin Pulm Med
2003, 9:46–51 © 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
Although the relation between allergic rhinitis and
asthma has been recognized for more than a century, it
has only been studied seriously for the last 10 to 15 years.
Anatomical and physiologic differences between nose
and lungs may account for the traditional division in up-
per and lower airways. The upper airways, from the nos-
trils to the vocal cords, have been the domain of the
otorhinolaryngologist for many years, while the airways
below the vocal cords have been the terrain of the pul-
monologist. This arbitrary dichotomy has contributed to
the fact that asthma and allergic rhinitis were always
considered two separate entities. Although allergists
treat atopic rhinitis and asthma, treatment strategies may
lack a combined approach.
The recent publication of the “Allergic rhinitis and its
impact on asthma” article has definitely made this idea
an outdated concept [1••]. The evidence of epidemio-
logic, pathophysiologic, and clinical data is so compel-
ling, that the concept of “one airway, one disease” is
becoming generally accepted. However, many questions
still remain unanswered. Which factors play a role in the
development of certain allergic phenotypes? Which
mechanisms are involved in nasobronchial crosstalk?
What is the place of novel treatments in the therapy of
allergic rhinitis and asthma?
Epidemiologic factors
Prevalence rates of atopic diseases, such as asthma, rhi-
nitis, and eczema, vary all over the world [2]. In Europe,
the prevalence of asthma has increased more than two-
fold during the last two decades and now affects up to
15% of the adult population [3]. The prevalence of rhi-
nitis closely follows that of asthma, but is approximately
three times higher [2]. Patients with allergic rhinitis have
a three times greater chance than healthy subjects to
develop asthma, regardless of the atopic status of the
patient [4]. The presence of atopy can be assessed with
a positive skin-prick test or radioallergosorbent test for a
specific allergen.
A family history of atopic disease is recognized as a major
risk factor for asthma and rhinitis [5,6]. Also, environ-
mental factors have an unmistakable effect on the de-
velopment of atopic disorders. The European Commu-
nity Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHC), which was
conducted during the early 1990s, collected data on the
prevalence, risk factors and disease management of
atopy and asthma [7]. Apart from the fact that there were
large geographical differences in the prevalence of
*Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Hospitals, Leuven,
Correspondence to Gert-Jan Braunstahl, MD, PhD, Department of Pulmonary
Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, lokatie Dijkzigt, Dr. Molewaterplein 40, 3015
GD Rotterdam, the Netherlands; e-mail:
Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine 2003, 9:46–51
BHR bronchial hyperresponsiveness
ECRHC European Community Respiratory Health Survey
IL interleukin
LTRAs leukotriene receptor antagonists
mAb monoclonal antibody
NS nasal steroids
PDE4 phosphodiesterase 4
SIT specific immunotherapy
VCAM vascular cell adhesion molecule
ISSN 1070–5287 © 2003Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
asthma and atopy, it confirmed that environmental fac-
tors play an important role in the development of allergic
lower airway disease. Living on a farm in childhood ap-
peared to be associated with a reduced risk of developing
atopy and hay fever during adulthood. However, no pro-
tective effect was observed for the development of
asthma in this study [8]. In contrast, Riedler et al. [9]
found that exposure to a farming environment in the first
year of life also protected against asthma, independently
of allergic sensitization. Reduction of exposure to indoor
allergens in infancy reduces some—but certainly not
all—respiratory symptoms in a high-risk population [10].
Exposure to allergens was related to specific sensitiza-
tion in a dose-dependent way. Environmental tobacco
smoke exposure is another important risk factor for
wheezing in infancy. Janson et al. [11] showed that there
was a significant relation between passive smoking and
the presence of asthma, which was not the case in allergic
rhinitis. Therefore, factors such as type, duration and
severity of allergen exposure early in life, as well as mi-
crobial load and chemical agents, could possibly affect
the clinical manifestation of allergic upper and lower air-
ways disease.
Pathophysiologic factors
The nose and lungs are anatomically and physiologically
closely related organs. The nose plays an important role
in the filtering and conditioning of inhaled air. In allergic
rhinitis, these functions are impaired, which also has con-
sequences for the lower airways. Oral breathing of cold,
dry air was associated with a reduction in FEV
in asth-
matic patients, while this effect could be prevented as
long as nasal breathing was maintained [12]. Asthmatic
patients are known to have a reduced ability to condition
air, based on an increased swelling of the nasal mucosa.
However, the decrease in nasal airway patency is not
always related to airway symptoms [13•,14]. The poor
perception of nasal [14] and bronchial symptoms [15] in
some patients may explain why allergic rhinitis and
asthma remain undiagnosed in several patients with air-
way allergy. Indeed, in a population of mostly asymp-
tomatic subjects with occupational allergy, increased
bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) was present not
only in the self-reported asthmatics, but also in self-
reported allergic rhinitis patients without lower airway
symptoms [16]. Other upper airway conditions that are
known to influence lower airway function are nasal pol-
yposis [17] and chronic sinusitis (Fig. 1) [18•]. Although
not explicitly related to the atopic syndrome, they
have been identified as factors involved in asthma
Interaction mechanisms
The pathophysiologic mechanisms that could explain
the interaction between the nose and the lung are: pul-
monary aspiration, neural reflex mechanisms and sys-
temic induction of inflammatory mediators and cells.
Studies with a radiolabeled allergen have shown no de-
position of allergen in the lungs after nasal allergen ap-
plication [19]. Although postnasal drainage of inflamma-
tory mediators into the lower airways cannot be
excluded, it is not likely to play a role in vivo [20]. Ex-
posure of the nasal mucosa to cold, dry air may result in
immediate bronchoconstriction in some asthmatic pa-
tients [21]. However, no direct effect on FEV
could be
detected after nasal allergen challenge [19,22,23]. Nasal
provocation with methacholine in asthmatic patients
with rhinitis resulted in an increase in lower airway re-
sistance. Interestingly, this phenomenon could be
blocked by premedication of nasal mucosa with phenyl-
ephrine and therefore suggests a role for systemic me-
diators in the induction of lower airway resistance [24].
Immunopathologic mechanisms
Allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis are characterized by
a similar inflammatory process in which mast cells and
eosinophils appear to be major effector cells [25,26]. Eo-
sinophils in airway mucosa are regarded as the hallmark
of allergic rhinitis and asthma [27]. Of note, eosinophilic
inflammation has been found in the lower airways [28–
31] of allergic rhinitis patients without asthma and in the
upper airways of asthmatic patients without nasal com-
plaints [32]. Although it is clear that the condition of the
upper airways influences the lower airways, the mecha-
nisms underlying this relation are still not completely
The primary response to an allergic [33] or irritating [34]
stimulus takes place in the target organ and is generally
more severe in patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma
than in patients with only rhinitis [33]. The primary re-
sponse is initially local, but followed by a more general-
ized airway reaction. The latter includes nasal and pul-
Figure 1. Relation between sinus CT scan score and number of
eosinophils in induced sputum
Log sputum eosinophils,
0 5 10 15
CT scan score (0–30)
Rs = 0.40
= 0.007
Relation between sinus CT scan score and number of eosinophils in induced
sputum in patients with severe asthma. Published with permission [18].
Allergic rhinitis and asthma Braunstahl and Hellings 47
monary symptoms, decreased airway patency and the
development of an inflammatory infiltrate, dominated by
eosinophils and T-lymphocytes [35,36]. The number of
blood eosinophils and the concentration of serum-
interleukin (IL)-5 increase in allergic subjects after natu-
ral [33] and experimental allergen exposure [35,36]. In
contrast, levels of eosinophil cationic protein are el-
evated only locally and not systemically after allergen
exposure, indicating that eosinophils become activated
in the airway mucosa [33]. The migration of eosinophils
from the blood to the tissue is facilitated by adhesion
molecules. After nasal provocation, vascular cell adhesion
molecule (VCAM)-1 and E-selectin were upregulated on
nasal and bronchial endothelium of allergic rhinitis pa-
tients without asthma [36].
Eosinophils are not the only cells involved in nasobron-
chial crosstalk. The role of the mast cell in asthma is also
subject to renewed interest. Mast cells are present in
increased numbers in the smooth muscle of asthmatic
patients and are related to BHR [37••]. Mast cells do not
only react on local stimuli. Segmental bronchial provo-
cation in allergic rhinitis patients results in mast cell de-
granulation and the influx of increased numbers of ba-
sophils in nasal mucosa [38•].
Systemic pathway
Animal models of airway allergy have also significantly
contributed to our current understanding of the allergic
airway response. Repeated allergen inhalations by sensi-
tized mice induced eosinophilic inflammation in the lu-
men and tissue of upper and lower airways simulta-
neously [39•]. In response to allergen inhalation,
swelling of the nasal mucosa developed concomitantly
with lower airway hyperresponsiveness. Finally, param-
eters of inflammation were positively correlated in the
upper and lower respiratory tract of these mice. There-
fore, murine data illustrate that allergen inhalation may
lead to the induction of allergic inflammation in upper
and lower airways, confirming the concept of global air-
way allergy. It is notable that the degree of eosinophilic
airway inflammation in these mice was more pronounced
in the bronchi than in the nose, an observation that is also
made in asthmatic patients [40]. However, it was found
that 83% of inhaled particles are retained within the na-
sal mucosa of mice, whereas only 13% reach the bronchi
[39•]. Therefore, these data suggest that, besides local
antigen deposition and induction of allergic inflamma-
tion at the site of allergen deposition, other mechanisms
must be involved in the development of severely in-
flamed lower airways in asthma.
Like in asthmatic patients, allergen inhalation by sensi-
tized mice stimulates allergen-specific IgE production
and enhances eosinophilia in the blood [41]. In addition,
it was demonstrated that allergen inhalation by sensi-
tized mice leads to a systemic increase of levels of IL-5
[39•], a well-known growth and differentiation factor for
eosinophils at the site of inflammation. Hence, this ob-
servation of systemic release of IL-5 after allergen inha-
lation fundamentally changes our idea about the involve-
ment of IL-5 in allergic disease. Apart from its paracrine
role in sustaining eosinophilic inflammation in the in-
flamed airway, IL-5 represents one of the mediators in-
volved in a systemic allergic response. Recent murine
data provide further insight into the role of systemic IL-5
in allergic airway disease. Wang et al. [42] reported that
systemic IL-5 plays a crucial role in the migration of
eosinophils towards the airway. In addition, IL-5 is in-
volved in the eosinopoiesis in the bone marrow. Indeed,
anti-IL-5 monoclonal antibody (mAb) given intraperito-
neally has inhibited bone marrow and airway eosino-
Figure 2. Nasobronchial crosstalk
Nasobronchial crosstalk
IL-5, eotaxin
Systemic circulation as an important pathway in the interaction between upper
and lower airways.
Figure 3. Children with and without asthma after 3 years of
No asthma
Asthma Odds ratio = 2.52
= 19
= 60
= 32
= 40
The percentage of children after 3 years of immunotherapy with and without
asthma among those without asthma before treatment (N = 151). The absolute
numbers of children are shown above bars. Published with permission [56].
48 Asthma
philia in mice [43]. Moreover, IL-5-deficient mice fail to
develop eosinophilia in bone marrow and nasal tissue in
experimental rhinitis [44•]. These data illustrate that
IL-5 may represent the systemic link between antigen
deposition onto the airway mucosa, eosinopoiesis in the
bone marrow and airway eosinophilia, as well as highlight
the contribution of the bone marrow to the inflammatory
response in allergic airway disease. Recently, Saito et al.
[45] analyzed the inflammatory changes in the nasal mu-
cosa and bone marrow in experimental rhinitis, showing
an increase in eosinophil progenitors in the bone marrow
after allergen deposition in the nose. Therefore, we tend
to speculate that the systemic release of IL-5 and stimu-
lation of bone marrow eosinopoiesis after allergen inha-
lation represent factors that are involved in the genera-
tion of airway allergy throughout the entire airway.
Although other mechanisms—ie, neural reflexes, pulmo-
nary aspiration, and mouth breathing—may contribute to
nasobronchial interaction, these recent data provide
ample evidence for the existence of a systemic pathway.
Systemic signals, including IL-5, and bone marrow seem
to be relevant in allergic airway disease (Fig. 2).
Therapeutic implications
Although accumulating evidence underlines the impor-
tance of allergic rhinitis in the control of asthma [46•],
both diseases are still treated as separate disorders. Few
studies have investigated the effect of nasal treatment on
asthma. Topical treatment with intranasal corticosteroids
reduces lower airway symptoms and decreases BHR in
allergic rhinitis patients with seasonal asthma [47–50]. In
one study, delivery of beclomethasone to the nose had
an even greater effect on BHR than delivery of the same
dose via the oral route [51]. Another report demonstrated
a beneficial effect of bronchial treatment with inhaled
corticosteroids on nasal symptoms and inflammation
[52]. Avoidance of inhalant allergens [10,53] and immu-
notherapy [54,55••,56–58] may be effective for asthma
and rhinitis on a long-term basis. A 3-year course of spe-
cific immunotherapy (SIT) in children with seasonal al-
lergic rhinitis significantly reduced the risk of developing
asthma (Fig. 3) [56•]. In a comparative study between
nasal steroids (NS) and short preseason SIT in patients
with allergic rhinitis and asthma, NS appeared to be
more effective in local disease control than SIT. SIT,
however, was able to have a positive influence on sys-
temic and bronchial parameters in these patients, while
NS had no apparent effect on the lower airways [57•].
Despite the benefit of antihistamines and cromoglycates
in seasonal allergic rhinitis, their effects on lower airways
are still doubtful [59]. Novel antihistamines, however,
seem to exert some beneficial effect on lower airway
inflammation, possibly through their antiinflammatory
properties [60–62]. Leukotriene receptor antagonists
(LTRAs) proved to have an additional therapeutic effect
on asthma [63,64]. Recent data show that the leuko-
trienes may also be of importance in inflammatory upper
airway disease, which emphasizes a role for LTRAs in
the treatment of allergic rhinitis [65•]. Recently, phos-
phodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitors, which exert an anti-
inflammatory effect by blocking IL-13 production, have
come to our attention. Although this drug is still in de-
velopment, it has proved to be safe and effective in
asthma and rhinitis [66,67]. Also, anti-IgE antibodies are
promising tools in asthma and rhinitis therapy. They pre-
vent IgE from binding to receptors on mast cells and
basophils, thereby eliminating allergic inflammation at
the initial step of the inflammatory cascade [68•,69].
Anti-IgE treatment has proved to be effective in asthma,
since it reduced symptoms, asthma exacerbations and
the need for steroids [70•,71••]. Its usefulness in allergic
rhinitis—particularly as a steroid-sparing agent—has yet
to be determined.
The idea that allergic rhinitis and asthma are related
originates from the late 19th century. The relation be-
tween allergic rhinitis and asthma has been well estab-
lished in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials. How-
ever, little is known about the immunopathologic
mechanisms that underlie the interaction between upper
and lower airways. The condition of the upper airways
can influence the lower airways and vice versa. Local al-
lergen exposure at one end of the respiratory system
induces mucosal inflammation at the other end. There-
fore, upper and lower airways need to be regarded as one
functional entity. Although physiologic mechanisms may
also contribute to nasobronchial crosstalk, most recently
published data are in favor of a systemic pathway, in-
volving bloodstream and bone marrow. This also has im-
plications for rhinitis and asthma therapy, providing a
rationale for systemic treatment. What eventually deter-
mines the clinical phenotype in allergic airway disease is
still not completely understood. Several factors, such as
the type of inhalant allergy and the duration and severity
of exposure, as well as the genetic susceptibility, may
contribute to the expression of the clinical picture. Fu-
ture studies will, hopefully, elucidate to what extent lo-
cal and systemic factors add to the development of aller-
gic airway disease.
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Allergic rhinitis and asthma Braunstahl and Hellings 51
... Both upper and lower respiratory tract diseases coexist and share similar pathophysiological and inflammatory profiles [6,21]. It has been reported that direct stimulation by antigens caused by both the upper and lower respiratory tract infection or inflammation of the upper and lower respiratory tracts were linked [19,[22][23][24][25]. Endoscopy after the nasal cavity or bronchus was directly stimulated with an antigen showed increased expressions of inflammatory mediators in the nose after stimulating the bronchi and in the bronchi after stimulating the nose [19,[22][23][24][25]. ...
... Both upper and lower respiratory tract diseases coexist and share similar pathophysiological and inflammatory profiles [6,21]. It has been reported that direct stimulation by antigens caused by both the upper and lower respiratory tract infection or inflammation of the upper and lower respiratory tracts were linked [19,[22][23][24][25]. Endoscopy after the nasal cavity or bronchus was directly stimulated with an antigen showed increased expressions of inflammatory mediators in the nose after stimulating the bronchi and in the bronchi after stimulating the nose [19,[22][23][24][25]. These indicate that antigen challenge in one airway (nasal or bronchial) induces allergic inflammation in the other airway. ...
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Allergen immunotherapy is a promising treatment for allergic diseases that induce immune tolerance through the administration of specific allergens. In this study, we investigate the efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in asthmatic patients with SAR-JCP and the dynamics of the parameters before and after treatment in a real-world setting. This was a prospective single-center observational study. Patients with asthma and SAR-JCP (n = 24) were recruited for this study and assessed using symptom questionnaires before SLIT and a year after the SLIT. In addition, a respiratory function test, forced oscillation technique, and blood sampling test were performed during the off-season before and after SLIT. The one-year SLIT for asthma patients with SAR-JCP significantly improved not only allergic rhinitis symptoms, but also asthma symptoms during the JCP dispersal season, and significantly improved airway resistance during the off-season. The change in the asthma control test and the visual analog scale score during the season before and after SLIT was negatively and positively correlated with the change in peripheral blood γδ T cells off-season before and after SLIT, respectively. It was suggested that improvement in asthma symptoms during the JCP dispersal season after SLIT was associated with reduced peripheral blood γδ T cells.
... The current discovery of these related concomitant conditions has led to a discussion as to whether detecting and treating AR early could reduce or inhibit related concomitant conditions. We, in this article, particularly debate the relationship between asthma and AR, chronic effusion of the middle ear along with hearing impairment, lymphoid hypertrophy, and sinusitis, in addition to sleep-related complaints, obstructive sleep apnea, and subsequent educational and behavioral impacts [2,159,160]. ...
Allergic rhinitis (AR) occasionally arises alone and is required to be evaluated as part of systemic allergic disorders related to various concomitant diseases, including sinusitis, asthma, chronic middle ear effusions, and lymphoid hypertrophy accompanying with obstructive sleep apnea, impaired sleep, and subsequent educational and behavioral impacts. Allergic rhinitis characteristically emerges following the second year of life; however, certain frequency in early age is not known. AR influences 10–30% of people, with the highest prevalence in adolescents and children. At the time of the immune system development of a child during the first and fourth years of his/her growth, children who have atopic predisposition start to manifest allergic diseases with a significant Th2 response, following allergen exposure, which is responsible for symptoms. Pollen exposure of two or more seasons is usually necessary to become sensitized in the case of pediatric AR; therefore, allergy tests for seasonal allergens (grass, weed, tree) are required to be performed after the second or third years of life. Getting sensitized to the perennial allergens (cockroaches, animals, dust mites) may manifest many months after the exposure. Categorization of AR involves quantifying the incidence and continuation period of the symptoms. AR at intervals is characterized by symptoms effective in less than 4 days/weeks or less than 4 following weeks. Persistent AR is characterized and diagnosed as a disease if it continues longer than 4 days/weeks or longer than 4 consecutive weeks. AR is linked with emotional issues, sleep disturbances, decrease in life quality, and decrease in activities such as social function, school, and work efficiency. AR can also be classified with respect to severity as either severe/moderate or mild. Moreover, there are concomitant diseases linked to AR, and chronic impacts of the inflammatory period influence the ears, lungs, growth, and others. AR may lead to learning difficulties, complications, and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, acute and serous otitis media, acute and chronic sinusitis, and worsening of asthma and adenoidal hypertrophy. In this chapter, pathophysiology of allergic rhinitis is discussed.
... [4][5][6][7][8][9] AR is often part of a systemic inflammatory process associated with diseases such as allergic conjunctivitis, rhinosinusitis, and asthma. 1,10 The impact of AR on the patient's Quality of Life (QoL) (quality of sleep and psychological status) has received much more attention in recent years. Several studies have shown that a relationship exists between psychological factors and atopic disorders. ...
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Patients with allergic rhinitis (AR) can suffer from mood disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical effect of a liposomal nasal spray (LN) containing vitamins A and E on the nasal mucosa in patients suffering from AR who had refused any type of anti-allergic treatment. For this purpose, the results of nasal cytology, Visual Analog Scale (VAS), Sino-Nasal Outcome Test-22 (SNOT-22), and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) test were analyzed. Moreover, we evaluated the relationship between SNOT-22 and nasal cytology and between nasal symptoms and HADS scores. Statistical analysis revealed a significant decrease of scores at T1 in the LN treatment group as concerns VAS, SNOT-22, HADS-Anxiety test and a remarkable reduction of inflammatory cells detected with nasal cytology. Our study showed that higher levels of SNOT-22 corresponded to a higher level of HADS-Anxiety. The mechanisms underlying this relationship in AR patients are currently unknown, but we can suppose that improving mucosal trophism may contribute to the decrease of nasal symptoms and anxiety scores. The improvement of nasal symptoms, as measured by SNOT-22, was significantly correlated with the objective results of nasal cytology. These relationships between SNOT-22 and nasal cytology and between anxiety and cytology were investigated for the first time in our research.
... Indeed, inhaled steroids decreased nasal brush eosinophils and nasal lavage fluid levels of eosinophil cationic protein [7]. Most findings for 'one airway, one disease' indicate a systemic link between the upper and lower airways that involves the bloodstream and bone marrow [8,9]. ...
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Background Eosinophilic otitis media (EOM) is often associated with comorbid asthma. The middle ear cavity is part of the upper airway. Therefore, EOM and asthma can be considered to be a crucial part of the “one airway, one disease” phenomenon. Based on the concept of one airway, one disease in the context of allergic rhinitis and asthma, optimal level of inhalation therapy for better asthma control leads to improvement in allergic rhinitis. Objective We conducted a pilot study to determine whether appropriate strengthening of inhalation therapy for asthma is effective for EOM. Methods Fifteen patients with EOM and comorbid asthma were enrolled in this study. Eight patients were randomly selected and administered appropriately strengthened inhalation therapy for asthma (strengthened group). The effect of the therapy on EOM was assessed by comparing a questionnaire for ear symptoms, clinical characteristic score, pure tone audiometry, blood tests and temporal bone computed tomography (CT) examination before and after the therapy. Seven other EOM + asthma patients without the above mentioned therapy were included as controls. Results In the strengthened group, the score of ear symptoms, clinical characteristics score, peripheral blood eosinophil count, CT score, and air conduction hearing level improved significantly after strengthening the inhalation therapy, but not in the control group. The lung function tests (forced vital capacity [%predicted], forced expiratory volume in 1 second [FEV1] [L], and FEV1 [%predicted]) significantly increased in the strengthened group after the therapy, but not in the control group. Conclusion In this study we demonstrated that EOM improved along with improved lung function when appropriately optimal inhalation therapy was implemented in patients with EOM and asthma. Administration of optimizing therapy for asthma might be effective for concomitant EOM.
... The chronic effects of the inflammatory process affect other related systems or organs, such as the lungs, ears, growth, and others. AR can easily induce medical complications, learning problems and sleep-related complaints, such as chronic and acute sinusitis, acute otitis media, serous otitis media, aggravation of adenoid hypertrophy [22], and underlying asthma [23]. Comorbidities of AR are also reported as asthma, chronic middle ear effusion with hearing loss, sinusitis, lymphoid hypertrophy and obstructive sleep apnea, sleep disorders, and consequent behavioural and educational effects [20]. ...
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Background Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a global health problem and is characterised by one or more symptoms, including sneezing, itching, nasal congestion and rhinorrhea. Objective We investigated the features of AR and the physician's approach to the management of AR patients in four geographical regions. Methods In this cross-sectional study, a questionnaire survey concerning AR was completed by Honorary and Corresponding Members of the Italian Society of Rhinology from different countries among 4 world geographical regions—Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa. Results The prevalence of AR was reported to be 15%–25%. Children and adolescents, as well as young adults, were the age groups more affected by AR with comorbidities of asthma, sinusitis, conjunctivitis, and nasal polyposis. Nasal symptoms of AR were more intense in the spring (51.92%) and autumn (28.85%). The most common aero-allergens were pollen and mites (67.31%), animal dander and pollutants (23.08%), and fungal allergens (21.15%). Allergen-specific immunotherapy was prescribed for both perennial and seasonal allergens (32.69%) via sublingual swallow (46.15%) and subcutaneous (32.69%) routes. For the AR patients, the most prescribed drugs were intranasal corticosteroids (86.54%) and oral H1-antihistamines (82.69%). Conclusion A network of experts can improve our knowledge concerning AR epidemiology, and together with guidelines, could assist practitioners and otolaryngologists in standardising the diagnosis and treatment of AR.
Eosinophilic otitis media (EOM) and eosinophilic chronic rhinosinusitis (ECRS) are both intractable upper airway diseases characterized by infiltration of numerous eosinophils. Both EOM and ECRS show high rates of comorbidity with asthma, and are considered to have a “one airway, one disease” relationship with asthma. Here, we summarize our current knowledge regarding the characteristics of EOM/ECRS, their relationships with asthma, and the efficacy of treatments for EOM/ECRS. The greater the severity of asthma, the more severe the EOM/ECRS. Appropriate strengthening of asthma inhalational therapy leads to improvement of comorbid EOM/ECRS. In addition, mild EOM responds to intratympanic infusion of a topical steroid, such as triamcinolone acetonide (TA), whereas moderate EOM requires a systemic steroid together with TA; severe EOM is associated with the formation of granulation tissue that requires surgical removal. Endoscopic sinus surgery is effective for the treatment of ECRS. To prevent recurrence of ECRS, medications such as montelukast, an anti-leukotriene agent, in addition to steroid treatment are necessary in many cases. Recently, the effectiveness of molecular-targeted drugs has been reported, but more data need to be accumulated.
Purpose of review: Eosinophilic otitis media (EOM) is an intractable otitis media characterized by numerous eosinophils infiltrating the middle ear cavity, which is part of the upper airway. EOM shows a high rate of comorbidity with asthma. They are considered to have a 'one airway, one disease' relationship. Here, we summarize our current knowledge regarding the characteristics of EOM, EOM's relationship with asthma and the efficacy of optimal treatments for EOM. Recent findings: The greater the severity of asthma, the more pronounced the development of EOM. Asthma control is usually inadequate in asthmatics who develop EOM, and appropriate strengthening of asthma inhalation therapy leads to improvement in the EOM. EOM severity can be divided into mild, moderate, and severe. Intratympanic infusion therapy using a topical steroid such as triamcinolone acetone is effective for mild EOM, whereas moderate EOM requires a systemic steroid in addition to triamcinolone acetone, and severe EOM forms granulation tissue that requires surgical removal. Recently, the effectiveness of molecularly targeted drugs is being reported, but more data need to be accumulated. Summary: EOM and asthma are closely related. Optimal asthma treatment is important for treating EOM. Treatments commensurate with the severity of EOM are being developed.
Objectives Asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR) frequently occur as comorbid diseases of the upper airways. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the FCRL3 and FCRL5 genes have recently been shown to be associated with various immune-related disorders. This study evaluated the association of FCRL3 and FCRL5 polymorphisms with asthma and allergic rhinitis (AR) in a Han Chinese population. Methods Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the FCRL3 and FCRL5 were genotyped in 300 asthmatic children, and 206 healthy unrelated individuals using PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) assay. Genotyping was validated by direct sequencing. Results Our results showed that the frequencies of the rs6692977 CT genotype and T allele within FCRL5 were significantly higher in asthma with comorbid AR compared to healthy controls (Bonferroni-corrected p (Pc) = 3.75 × 10⁻⁶; Pc = 0.006, respectively), whereas these of the CC genotype and C allele were significantly lower (Pc = 4.15 × 10⁻⁵; Pc = 0.006, respectively). The frequencies of the rs7528684 A allele (Pc = 1.80 × 10⁻³) and the rs10489678 G allele (Pc = 0.04) within FCRL3 were higher in asthma with comorbid AR than in controls. However, no differences in the tested genetic polymorphisms were detected between asthma and healthy individuals. Conclusion This study identified novel SNPs in FCRL3 and FCRL5 significantly associated with the risk for asthma with comorbid AR in the Chinese population. The genetic variants may play role in the development of the asthma phenotype in children with asthma.
Background: Allergies are among the most common chronic conditions worldwide affecting 10%-30% of adult individuals and 40% of children. Phonation can be affected by different allergic conditions in various ways. The role of allergy in phonation has been under-researched and poorly understood and the respective literature is poor. Several studies have investigated the role of certain allergic diseases in phonation. In this review, we tried to include all allergic conditions that can affect voice production. Methods: We conducted a bibliography review looking for allergic conditions that can affect phonation. Allergic asthma, allergic laryngitis, allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, oral allergy syndrome, and angioedema were included in our search. Results: The literature on the impact of allergy in phonation remains poor and many key questions concerning basic information for epidemiology, pathophysiology, and larynx pathology in allergic patients with phonation problems still remain unanswered. Conclusions: The role of allergy in voice production remains underinvestigated and many basic questions still remain open. Further research is needed to improve our understanding for these very common conditions.
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Objective: To estimate trends between 1972-6 and 1996 in the prevalences of asthma and hay fever in adults. Design: Two epidemiological surveys 20 years apart. Identical questions were asked about asthma, hay fever, and respiratory symptoms at each survey. Setting: Renfrew and Paisley, two towns in the west of Scotland. Subjects: 1477 married couples aged 45-64 participated in a general population survey in 1972-6; and 2338 offspring aged 30-59 participated in a 1996 survey. Prevalences were compared in 1708 parents and 1124 offspring aged 45-54. Main outcome measures: Prevalences of asthma, hay fever, and respiratory symptoms. Results: In never smokers, age and sex standardised prevalences of asthma and hay fever were 3.0% and 5.8% respectively in 1972-6, and 8.2% and 19.9% in 1996. In ever smokers, the corresponding values were 1.6% and 5.4% in 1972-6 and 5.3% and 15.5% in 1996. In both generations, the prevalence of asthma was higher in those who reported hay fever (atopic asthma). In never smokers, reports of wheeze not labelled as asthma were about 10 times more common in 1972-6 than in 1996. With a broader definition of asthma (asthma and/or wheeze), to minimise diagnostic bias, the overall prevalence of asthma changed little. However, diagnostic bias mainly affected non-atopic asthma. Atopic asthma increased more than twofold (prevalence ratio 2.52 (95% confidence interval 1.01 to 6.28)) whereas the prevalence of non-atopic asthma did not change (1.00 (0.53 to 1.90)). Conclusion: The prevalence of asthma in adults has increased more than twofold in 20 years, largely in association with trends in atopy, as measured indirectly by the prevalence of hay fever. No evidence was found for an increase in diagnostic awareness being responsible for the trend in atopic asthma, but increased awareness may account for trends in non-atopic asthma.
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IL-5 is induced locally in the lung and systemically in the circulation during allergic airways eosinophilic inflammation both in humans and experimental animals. However, the precise role of local and systemic IL-5 in the development of allergic airways eosinophilia remains to be elucidated. In our current study, we demonstrate that compared with their IL-5(+/+) counterparts, IL-5(-/-) mice lacked an IL-5 response both in the lung and peripheral blood, yet they released similar amounts of IL-4, eotaxin, and MIP-1α in the lung after ovalbumin (OVA) sensitization and challenge. At cellular levels, these mice failed to develop peripheral blood and airways eosinophilia while the responses of lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages remained similar to those in IL-5(+/+) mice. To dissect the relative role of local and systemic IL-5 in this model, we constructed a gene transfer vector expressing murine IL-5. Intramuscular IL-5 gene transfer to OVA-sensitized IL-5(-/-) mice led to raised levels of IL-5 compartmentalized to the circulation and completely reconstituted airways eosinophilia upon OVA challenge, which was associated with reconstitution of eosinophilia in the bone marrow and peripheral blood. Significant airways eosinophilia was observed for at least 7 d in these mice. In contrast, intranasal IL-5 gene transfer, when rendered to give rise to a significant but compartmentalized level of transgene protein IL-5 in the lung, was unable to reconstitute airways eosinophilia in OVA-sensitized IL-5(-/-) mice upon OVA-challenge, which was associated with a lack of eosinophilic responses in bone marrow and peripheral blood. Our findings thus provide unequivocal evidence that circulating but not local lung IL-5 is critically required for the development of allergic airways eosinophilia. These findings also provide the rationale for developing strategies to target circulating IL-5 and/or its receptors in bone marrow to effectively control asthmatic airways eosinophilia.
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The practice of avoiding exposure to allergens (allergen avoidance) for allergic diseases such as asthma is not a new idea. In the 16th century the Archbishop of St Andrews had a miraculous remission of his intractable asthma by getting rid of his feather bedding, and in 1927 Storm van Leeuwen created a “climate chamber” in Holland in an attempt to recreate the beneficial environment of high altitude sanatoriums. This article focuses on how to avoid indoor allergens in homes in temperate climates and the potential benefits for sensitised patients with atopic disorders. Nowadays most people spend more than 90% of their lives indoors. Over the past 30 years, the home environment has changed enormously with the introduction of soft furnishings, fitted carpets, and central heating. Indoor ventilation has decreased—the rate at which indoor air is exchanged for fresh air is now 10 times lower than it was 30 years ago, with a considerable increase both in humidity and in concentrations of indoor pollutants and airborne allergens. As exposure to allergens is an important cause of symptoms in sensitised patients, reducing exposure should improve disease control. In spite of this, few patients in Britain with asthma, eczema, or perennial rhinitis, or any combination of these, are skin tested. Few patients in Britain with asthma, eczema, or perennial rhinitis receive advice on appropriate avoidance measures
Background Systematic international comparisons of the prevalences of asthma and other allergic disorders in children are needed for better understanding of their global epidemiology, to generate new hypotheses, and to assess existing hypotheses of possible causes. We investigated worldwide prevalence of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic. Methods We studied 463 801 children aged 13–14 years in 155 collaborating centres in 56 countries. Children self-reported, through one-page questionnaires, symptoms of these three atopic disorders. In 99 centres in 42 countries, a video asthma questionnaire was also used for 304 796 children. Findings We found differences of between 20-fold and 60-fold between centres in the prevalence of symptoms of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic eczema, with four-fold to 12-fold variations between the 10th and 90th percentiles for the different disorders. For asthma symptoms, the highest 12-month prevalences were from centres in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Republic of Ireland, followed by most centres in North, Central, and South America; the lowest prevalences were from centres in several Eastern European countries, Indonesia, Greece, China, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, India, and Ethiopia. For allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, the centres with the highest prevalences were scattered across the world. The centres with the lowest prevalences were similar to those for asthma symptoms. For atopic eczema, the highest prevalences came from scattered centres, including some from Scandinavia and Africa that were not among centres with the highest asthma prevalences; the lowest prevalence rates of atopic eczema were similar in centres, as for asthma symptoms. Interpretation The variation in the prevalences of asthma, allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, and atopic-eczema symptoms is striking between different centres throughout the world. These findings will form the basis of further studies to investigate factors that potentially lead to these international patterns.
Leukotriene modifiers are an entirely new class of asthma treatment, which have entered clinical practice in 1996-7 in several countries including Britain, Japan, and the United States. Their development is an example of rational drug design following the elucidation of leukotriene structures in 1979-80 and the subsequent confirmation of their pathophysiological role as inflammatory mediators in asthma.1There are two types of leukotriene modifier: leukotriene synthesis inhibitors and cysteinyl leukotriene receptor antagonists.2 Both are used to block the bronchoconstrictor and pro-inflammatory activity of cysteinyl leukotrienes within the asthmatic airway. Cysteinyl leukotrienes (LTC4, LTD4, and LTE4) were originally identified as long lasting smooth muscle spasmogens and collectively termed “slow reacting substance of anaphylaxis” (SRS-A). They are now known to be metabolites of arachidonic acid formed by the 5-lipoxygenase pathway1 and are produced almost exclusively by inflammatory leucocytes, especially mast cells, basophils, and eosinophils. The leukotriene receptor antagonists block the activity of cysteinyl leukotrienes at their receptors (CysLT1) on bronchial smooth muscle and elsewhere, while the leukotriene synthesis inhibitors block the synthesis of all leukotrienes by interrupting the 5-lipoxygenase pathway.2Cysteinyl leukotrienes are among …
Histamine is an important mediator of asthma. The new anti-histamines which block histamine at the H1-receptor level also possess some anti-allergic properties. At current dosages they appear to be safe. These drugs are effective in the treatment of rhinitis and conjunctivitis but their role in asthma is still under investigation. At a dose higher than usually recommended, they were shown to block exercise-induced asthma and, inconstantly, the early phase reaction after allergen challenge. Their effect on the late phase allergic reaction as well as their clinical efficacy during trials is, however, less consistent. The indication of H1-blockers in the treatment of asthma is therefore limited, especially since doses higher than recommended may lead to adverse reactions.
Experimental studies have demonstrated that induction of a nasal allergic reaction can lead to an increase in bronchial responsiveness (BR). To assess the clinical relevance of these experimental changes to chronic asthma, we sought to determine the effect of nasal beclomethasone dipropionate (Bdp) on BR in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma. Eighteen subjects with histories of seasonal allergic rhinitis and asthma during the fall pollen season with positive skin tests to short ragweed and bronchial hyperresponsiveness to inhaled methacholine were assigned to receive either nasal Bdp (336 micrograms/day) or placebo for the entire ragweed season. Patients recorded daily nasal and chest symptoms, nasal blockage index, oral peak expiratory flow rates, and supplemental medication use. BR to methacholine was measured during the baseline period and 6 weeks into the ragweed season. Although the Bdp group did have a significant improvement in nasal blockage index, there was no improvement in daily asthma symptom scores, oral peak expiratory flow, or asthma medication use. However, subjects treated with Bdp were protected from the increase in BR seen in the placebo group (geometric mean PC20 placebo group: baseline = 0.70, week 6 = 0.29; Bdp group: baseline = 0.80, week 6 = 0.93; intergroup difference, p = 0.022). We conclude that nasal corticosteroid therapy can prevent the increase in BR associated with seasonal pollen exposure in patients with allergic rhinitis and asthma.
We studied the role of atopy, as defined by positive skin tests to common inhalant allergens, in allergic bronchial inflammation. Endobronchial biopsies were taken via the fibreoptic bronchoscope in 13 symptomatic atopic asthmatics, 10 atopic nonasthmatics, and 7 normals. The numbers of mast cells, identified in the submucosa by immunohistochemistry using the AA1 monoclonal antibody against tryptase, were no different between the three groups, but electron microscopy showed that mast cell degranulation, although less marked in atopic nonasthmatics, was a feature of atopy in general. The numbers of eosinophils, identified by immunohistochemical staining using the monoclonal anti-eosinophil cationic protein antibody, EG2, were greatest in the asthmatics, low or absent in the normals and intermediate in the atopic nonasthmatics. In both atopic groups eosinophils showed ultrastructural features of degranulation. Measurements of subepithelial basement membrane thickness on electron micrographs showed that the collagen layer was thickest in the asthmatics, intermediate in the atopic nonasthmatics and thinnest in the normals. The results suggest that airways eosinophilia and degranulation of eosinophils and mast cells, as well as increased subepithelial collagen deposition, are a feature of atopy in general and suggest that the degree of change may determine the clinical expression of this immune disorder.