Allergic fungal sinusitis: An immunohistologic analysis

David A. Khan, D. Thane Cody, Terry J. George, Gerald J. Gleich, Kristin M. Leiferman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background: Allergic fungal sinusitis is a noninvasive form of fungal sinusitis that has recently been delineated as a distinct clinicopathologic entity. It is increasingly recognized as a cause of chronic sinusitis, with the primary causative agents being members of the Dematiaceae fungus family. Although its immunopathogenesis has not been elucidated, the eosinophil is a prominent inflammatory cell on histologic examination. Objective: We sought to characterize the involvement of eosinophils in sinus tissue and accompanying mucin from patients with allergic fungal sinusitis. As a comparison, neutrophil and mast cell involvement was also evaluated in the same group of patients. Methods: Tissue specimens from 8 patients with allergic fungal sinusitis, along with 8 nasal polyp specimens from patients without allergic fungal sinusitis, were stained by using indirect immunofluorescence for eosinophil granule major basic protein (MBP). Neutrophil elastase and mast cell tryptase staining was also performed on the same allergic fungal sinusitis and nasal polyp tissues. Results: MBP was diffusely localized within the mucin, showing intense staining at the periphery and variable staining of degenerated cell clusters throughout. Extracellular MBP in the mucin was strikingly greater than intact eosinophil staining. Diffuse extracellular nentrophil elastase was also present in the mucin. Mucinous areas showed no tryptase localization. Adjacent nonmucinous areas of respiratory mucosa showed predominantly cellular staining with eosinophil MBP, neutrophil elastase, and mast cell tryptase. MBP staining of nasal polyps showed a predominantly cellular pattern with focal areas of extracellular deposition. Conclusions: Given the known toxicities of eosinophil granule MBP and neutrophil elastase, their extracellular presence supports the contribution of these proteins in the pathogenesis of allergic fungal sinusitis and further indicates that eosinophil and neutrophil activation occurs in the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1096-1101
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Eosinophil
  • Major basic protein
  • Mast cell tryptase
  • Neutrophil elastase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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