Tissue-specific effects of allergic rhinitis in mouse nasal epithelia

Virginia Mc Millan Carr*, Alan M. Robinson, Robert C. Kern

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Allergic rhinitis (AR) can cause significant olfactory loss, but few studies have specifically investigated AR effects on olfactory and nasal respiratory tissues per se. To address this, we used a murine AR protocol employing nasal allergen infusion for both sensitization and challenges. Seven- to 11-week BALB/c mice were bilaterally infused with 1% ovalbumin (OVA) in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) or PBS alone for 6 or 11 weeks, given single bilateral PBS or OVA infusions 24 h before sacrifice, or left untreated. High OVA-specific IgE serum levels and eosinophil infiltration confirmed AR induction. Olfactory (OE) and respiratory (RE) epithelia showed distinctly different responses, most conspicuously, massive eosinophil infiltration of immediately RE-subjacent lamina propria. In OE, such infiltration was minimal. Significant RE hypertrophy and hyperplasia also occurred, although OE organization was generally maintained and extensive disruption localized despite a 20% reduction in sensory neurons and globose basal cells after 11 weeks OVA. Pronounced Bowman's gland hypertrophy crowded both OE and olfactory nerve bundles. Cellular proliferation was widely distributed in RE but in OE was localized to normally thinner OE and RE-proximal OE, suggesting possible indirect RE influences. Terminal deoxynucleotide transferase (TdT) nick end labeling was greater in OE than RE and, in contrast to other effects, occurred with acute infusions and chronic PBS alone, often unilaterally. Following chronic OVA, AR-related bilateral increases appeared superimposed on those. These findings indicate AR effects on olfactory function may be complex, reflecting various levels of RE/OE responses and interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655-668
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Bowman's glands
  • Eosinophil infiltration
  • Olfactory epithelium
  • Respiratory epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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