Researchers of Mayo Clinic have found the cause of chronic sinus infections is the direct result of the nasal mucus getting infected and not the nasal and sinus tissue. The findings will be published in the August issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers fro the study report that the age old belief that chronic sinus infection strikes the diseased airway tissue is not valid anymore, as their findings show that toxic protein are released into the mucus because of the infection. Therefore, scientists might need to take not only the tissue but also the mucus into account when trying to understand what causes chronic sinus infections and probably other airway diseases.
The findings could significantly change the way chronic sinus infection is treated, said the researchers.
The team found that, in chronic sinus infection patients, activated white blood cells (eosinophils) cluster in the nasal and sinus mucus and scatter a toxic protein (major basic protein) onto the nasal and sinus membrane. While major basic protein was not distributed in the nasal and sinus tissue, the level of this protein in the mucus of chronic sinus infection patients far exceeded that needed to damage the nasal and sinus membranes and make them more susceptible to infections such as chronic sinus infection.
To conduct this investigation, the researchers had collected specimens from 22 consecutive Mayo Clinic chronic sinus infection patients undergoing endoscopic sinus surgery. The surgeons extracted the maximum possible tissue and mucus during the sinus surgery. The surgeons also extracted tissue and mucus from healthy patients undergoing septoplasty, surgery to fix a deviated septum, for comparison with the specimens from the chronic sinus infection patients. Through various forms of laboratory examination of the tissue and attached mucus, the investigators observed an abundance of major basic protein throughout the nasal and sinus mucus in all 22 specimens, but not in the tissue.
The research suggests a beneficial effect in treatments that target primarily the underlying and presumably damage-inflicting nasal and sinus membrane inflammation, instead of the secondary bacterial infection that has been the primary target of treatments for the disease. Also, some surgeons have already started to change the way they do surgery for patients with chronic sinus infections, focusing now on removing the mucus, which is loaded with toxins from the inflammatory cells, rather than the tissue during surgery. Leaving the mucus behind might predispose patients for early recurrence of the chronic sinus infection, said the scientists.
Medindia on Chronic sinus infection: Further information
Chronic sinus infection: This is the condition of chronic or prolonged inflammation in the sinuses of the head. Chronic sinus infection is caused by allergies or infection by bacteria that can cause cold like symptoms and symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection. However the permanent damage of such an infection will be the damage or destructions of the tissue of the sinus.