'Man's best friend' may be even better

(June 12 , 2003) Bethesda, MD For millions of Americans, allergic rhinitis, or "hayfever" can lead to severe discomfort, including nasal congestion, difficulty in nasal breathing, and an increase risk for asthma. People with adverse reactions to airborne allergens are often hypersensitive to other irritants such as nitrites, sulfur oxides, airborne particles, and ammonia and co-exposure to air pollutants and allergens may trigger a synergistic response.

Researchers have believed that although histamine and amine compounds released by the cells during an allergic reaction contribute to allergic discomfort, other mediators and neural pathways are also involved. Ideally, identifying the various levels of irritant- and allergen-induced reactions in the nasal passages would provide new insights. To do so, a suitable testing model is necessary to delineate novel target sites and to test potential efficacy and toxicity of new chemical entities before starting evaluations in humans.

Unfortunately, finding the animal model has been a lot more difficult than one would think. Several animal models of rhinitis have been used in previous research but the results were based on euthanizing the animals following the techniques tested, an action unsuitable for application to humans.

A New Study

Now, however, a team of researchers has found that the erstwhile companion of millions -- the friendly beagle dog -- closely resembles the pathophysiology for human allergic rhinitis. This discovery enables the use of experimental techniques similar to those used for the assessment of human nasal passages and permits other, related experiments.

The authors of "Canine Model of Nasal Congestion and Allergic Rhinitis" are Ruslan L. Tiniakov, Olga P. Tiniakova, and Donovan B. Yeates, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Veterans Affairs Chicago Health Care System, Chicago, IL; and Robbie L. McLeod and John A. Hey, at the Scheri

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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