Staphylococcal exotoxins and nasal polyposis: Analysis of systemic and local responses

Anju Tripathi*, Robert Kern, David B. Conley, Kristin Seiberling, Julie C. Klemens, Kathleen E. Harris, Lydia Suh, Jie Huang, Leslie C. Grammer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Background: Staphylococcal exotoxins have been implicated in the pathogenesis of several chronic inflammatory diseases including atopic dermatitis (AD), asthma, and, most recently, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (CRS/NP). In severe AD, these toxins act both as superantigens (SAg), triggering massive T-cell activation, and as conventional allergens, triggering toxin-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the serum. In CRS/NP, evidence for both processes has been reported but it is unclear whether these processes are linked. The aim of this study was to correlate SAg activity as inferred by staphylococcal-specific T-cell receptor (TCR) V-β expansion in the polyp and blood of CRS/NP patients with staphylococcal-specific anti-IgE antibodies in the serum. Methods: IgE antibodies to staphylococcal exotoxin A (SEA), staphylococcal exotoxin B (SEB), and toxic shock syndrome toxin (TSST) 1 were measured in the serum of 12 individuals with CRS/NP before functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Flow cytometry was used to analyze the SEA, SEB, and TSST-1-specific TCR V-β domains on the T cells from the polyp and blood of these patients. Results: Serum SEA-, SEB-, and TSST-1-specific IgE antibodies were detected in 0/12 (0%), 6/12 (50.0%), and 9/12 (75%) of CRS/NP patients, respectively. Evidence of SAg effect in the polyp lymphocytes (TCR V-β expansion in both CD4+ and CD8+ subsets) was noted in 7/12 (58.3%) patients. Five of 6 CRS/NP patients had overlapping evidence of a systemic IgE response and TCR V-β expansion, suggestive of exposure to the same exotoxin. No patients had evidence a SAg effect in blood lymphocytes. Nine of 12 subjects also had coexistent asthma. Conclusion: These results provide evidence for a local SAg effect in 7/12 (58.3%) polyp patients and establish a positive correlation of V-β expansion with the presence of corresponding toxin-specific IgE in the serum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-333
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Rhinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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