Neuroendocrine components exist in the human nasal mucosa. However, the pathophysiological and neuroimmunological roles of the regulatory peptides in allergic rhinitis (AR) require further investigation. To analyse the functional morphology and quantify the tissue concentration of regulatory peptides in the nasal mucosa of AR subjects, human inferior turbinate mucosa specimens from 25 patients with AR, 20 patients with non-allergic rhinitis and 10 patients without any nasal diseases were investigated. Using immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassays, we detected the presence, distribution and concentrations of various neuropeptides [vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), neuropeptide Y (NPY), substance P (SP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)] and general neuroendocrine markers (neuron-specific enolase and chromogranin A). Quantitative analysis of the stained fibres and cells was performed using a graphic AutoCAD program. The presence and distribution of NPY, CGRP and SP nerve fibres and neuroendocrine cells were similar among the three subject groups. AR subjects had significantly higher tissue concentrations of VIP and SP. AR subjects had increased numbers of VIP fibres which predominantly innervated vessels. Thus, VIP and SP play important neuroimmunological roles in the pathogenesis of AR.
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