European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology

, Volume 270, Issue 10, pp 2667–2676 | Cite as

Eosinophils and mast cells: a comparison of nasal mucosa histology and cytology to markers in nasal discharge in patients with chronic sino-nasal diseases

  • Moritz Gröger
  • Andreas Bernt
  • Maria Wolf
  • Brigitte Mack
  • Elisabeth Pfrogner
  • Sven Becker
  • Matthias F. Kramer


Allergic rhinitis (AR), nasal polyps (NP) as well as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) are all known to be associated with eosinophilic infiltration and elevated numbers of mast cells (MC) within the mucosa. Both cell types and their markers eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP) and tryptase are utilized in the diagnosis and management of chronic sino-nasal diseases. Mucosal cytology samples were gathered by cytobrush, histological samples were obtained from the inferior turbinate. In both sample sets, the number of eosinophils and MC was determined. Their corresponding markers ECP and tryptase were quantified from nasal discharge. Patients were grouped with reference to their main diagnosis: AR (n = 34), NP (n = 25), CRS (n = 27) and controls (n = 34). Eosinophil counts from cytobrush and ECP levels were significantly elevated in NP compared to all other groups—31- and 13-fold over control, respectively. However, histologic review did not reveal any difference in eosinophil count among groups. Tryptase was significantly elevated threefold in AR versus CRS and controls. No correlation to cytological and histological MC counts could be found. ECP levels in nasal discharge as well as eosinophil counts can provide useful information with regard to the diagnosis. Likewise, tryptase concentrations can do. The presented data show that the measurement of markers in nasal discharge is superior in differentiating among diagnosis groups. Given that the collection of nasal secretions is more comfortable for patients than the more invasive techniques, we recommend first line ECP and tryptase testing performed on nasal secretions.


Eosinophil Mast cell ECP Tryptase Allergy Chronic rhinosinositis 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moritz Gröger
    • 1
  • Andreas Bernt
    • 1
  • Maria Wolf
    • 1
  • Brigitte Mack
    • 1
  • Elisabeth Pfrogner
    • 1
  • Sven Becker
    • 1
  • Matthias F. Kramer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, Head- and Neck SurgeryLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany

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