Allergic rhinitis is a common allergy also known as hay fever. Allergic rhinitis affects billions of people globally. Pollen from weeds, grass, and other plants are the main triggers of allergic rhinitis. The effects on the person with this type of allergy are due to inflammation including sneezing, itchiness, and congestion. At the cell and molecular level, allergens such as pollen attach to IgE antibodies leading to the release of mediators of inflammation such as histamine, leukotrienes, and interlukins.
Pollen particles contain substances such as oxidases that provoke oxidative stress in the nasal and other parts of the respiratory track. Researchers have determined a link between the severe allergic responses of allergic rhinitis and defects in mitochondrial function. However, a group of scientists set out to determine if peripheral inflammatory cells exhibit mitochondrial defects after a response to nasal allergens. To answer this quesiton, the researchers studied whether mitochondrial function is affected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of people with allergic rhinitis.
Peripheral blood was collected from study participants before and after they received allergic rhinitis−producing nasal challenges. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were obtained from the blood, and these were analyzed for mitochondrial respiratory function by measuring the maximal respiration rate and respiratory chain complex activities (which drives the aerobic synthesis of ATP). The study results showed that pollen exposure caused a reduction in the maximal mitochondrial respiratory chain complex activities, as well as in mitochondrial coupling (which is needed for ATP production).
The information obtained from the study indicates that allergic rhinitis is a local and systemic disease and involves mitochondrial dysfunction of peripheral blood mononuclear cells. There is the potential to harness this information to identify a clinical biomarker for allergic responses and/or a target for the design of effective therapies for allergies such as allergic rhinits. More studies to better define the clinical applications would be beneficial for billions of allergy sufferers.