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Mayo Clinic research shows common airborne fungi cause chronic stuffy nose

option to sufferers worldwide.

Background

Chronic rhinosinusitis is one of the most common chronic illnesses in the United States. Its symptoms include persistent stuffy nose, thick mucus production and loss of smell. Though chronic rhinosinusitis causes significant discomfort and health problems, it is not well understood. Viruses, bacteria and allergic reactions all have been researched and debated as potential mechanisms driving the responses. The immune system mounts different kinds of responses for different invaders -- a bacterium gets attacked by a different cell or system than an allergy-prompting particle, for example. That's why it's critical to identify the key mechanisms in the immune response to chronic rhinosinusitis, allowing researchers to design treatments to relieve the distressing symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic work is the first to provide data for the role of airborne fungi in chronic rhinosinusitis and to show that several immune system branches appear to collaborate in response to the fungi -- resulting in an abnormally enhanced response that causes troublesome inflammation and congestion. The research team's data show that specific cells in 90 percent of chronic rhinosinusitis patients produce an enhanced immune-system response to one fungus in particular, Alternaria. Another kind of common fungus, Cladosporium, also provoked an abnormally enhanced immune response.

Mayo Clinic scientists previously used antifungal therapies to treat patients with chronic sinusitis, which marked a new clinical approach. These new findings serve to further support this perspective and will prompt additional research.

The Investigation

Researchers tested blood from 18 patients with chronic rhinosinusitis and 15 healthy persons to evaluate how specific immune system cells responded to common airborne fungi. The immune systems of those with chronic rhinosinusitis reacted more robust
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Contact: Bob Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
8-Oct-2004


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