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Role of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression in eosinophils of patients with allergic rhinitis, and effect of topical nasal steroid treatment on this receptor expression

  • T Mackle (a1), S S Gendy (a1), M Walsh (a1), R McConn-Walsh (a1), R W Costello (a2) and M-T Walsh (a2)...



Recent research has indicated that sphingosine 1-phosphate plays a role in allergy. This study examined the effect of allergen challenge on the expression of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptors on the eosinophils of allergic rhinitis patients, and the effect of steroid treatment on this expression.

Study design:

A prospective, non-randomised study.


The study had three parts. Firstly, sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression on the eosinophils of allergic rhinitis patients and control patients was determined. Secondly, sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression was quantified pre- and post-allergen challenge, before and after a short course of fluticasone propionate; all patients underwent symptom scoring and peak nasal inspiratory flow measurement pre- and post-allergen challenge, both before and after steroid or saline treatment. Thirdly, the effect of sphingosine 1-phosphate on eosinophil migration was examined.


The eosinophils of both allergic rhinitis patients and controls expressed sphingosine 1-phosphate1, 3, 4, and 5. Eosinophils from all allergic rhinitis patients demonstrated up-regulation in sphingosine 1-phosphate expression after allergen challenge. These changes were statistically very significant for sphingosine 1-phosphate1, 4, and 5, and moderately significant for sphingosine 1-phosphate3. Sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression up-regulation was abolished in the steroid-treated group after allergen challenge; however, the saline-treated group showed no change in sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression after allergen challenge. Peak nasal inspiratory flow scores were significantly diminished after allergen challenge prior to treatment, but not after a course of topical nasal steroids. Sphingosine 1-phosphate induced eosinophil chemotaxis was increased following allergen challenge in allergic rhinitis subjects.


Local intranasal steroid therapy acts directly to block allergen-induced up-regulation of sphingosine 1-phosphate receptors on the peripheral eosinophils of allergic rhinitis patients, and this is coincident with post-challenge peak nasal inspiratory flow measurement improvements. These observations support the idea that such an increase in sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor expression is clinically relevant in allergic rhinitis, with potential consequences for eosinophil migration and survival.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Dr Tara Mackle, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland. E-mail:


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