Superior turbinate eosinophilia correlates with olfactory deficit in chronic rhinosinusitis patients

Jennifer Lavin, Jin Young Min, Alcina K. Lidder, Julia He Huang, Atsushi Kato, Kent Lam, Eric Meen, Joan S. Chmiel, James Norton, Lydia Suh, Mahboobeh Mahdavinia, Kathryn E. Hulse, David B. Conley, Rakesh K. Chandra, Stephanie Shintani-Smith, Robert C. Kern, Robert P. Schleimer, Bruce K. Tan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate if molecular markers of eosinophilia in olfactory-enriched mucosa are associated with olfactory dysfunction. Study Design: Cross-sectional study of tissue biopsies from 99 patients, and an additional 30 patients who underwent prospective olfactory testing prior to sinonasal procedures. Methods: Tissue biopsies were processed for analysis of inflammatory markers using quantitative real time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Ipsilateral olfactory performance was assessed using the Sniffin' Sticks (Burghart, Wedel, Germany) threshold component and the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (Sensonics, Haddon Heights, NJ). Age-adjusted data was correlated with inflammatory marker expression and clinical measures of obstruction from computed tomography and endoscopy. Results: Gene expression of the eosinophil marker CLC (Charcot Leyden crystal protein) was elevated in superior turbinate (ST) tissue in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) compared to ST and inferior turbinate tissue in CRS without nasal polyps (CRSsNP) and control patients (all P < 0.001, respectively). CLC in ST tissue was correlated with IL-5 and eotaxin-1 expression (all P < 0.001; P = 0.65, and 0.49, respectively). CLC expression was strongly correlated with eosinophilic cationic protein levels (P < 0.001; r = −0.76), and ST CLC expression was inversely related to olfactory threshold (P = 0.002, r = −0.57) and discrimination scores (P = 0.05, r = −0.42). In multiple linear regression of CLC gene expression, polyp status, and radiographic and endoscopic findings with olfactory threshold, CLC was the only significantly correlated variable (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Markers of eosinophils are elevated in the ST of patients with CRSwNP and correlate with olfactory loss. These findings support the hypothesis that olfactory dysfunction in CRS correlates local eosinophil influx into the olfactory cleft. Level of Evidence: NA. Laryngoscope, 127:2210–2218, 2017.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2210-2218
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Eosinophils
  • chronic rhinosinusitis
  • olfactory dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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