Deposition of inhaled particulates onto the respiratory mucosa is relatively great in that portion of the nasal cavity unprotected by ciliated, goblet, or keratinized superficial cells. The cytochrome P‐450 system is an important enzyme system involved in the biotransformation of xenobiotics into metabolites that are more readily absorbed. To examine the transitional region caudal to the nasal vestibule, nasal tissues of hamster and rat were prepared for immunocytochemistry. Blocks of tissue representing four levels along the axis of the nasal cavity were examined. Paraffin sections were processed through the avidin‐biotin peroxidase procedure, with diaminobenzidine tetrahydrochloride as the chromagen. Enzyme localization was accomplished through the use of antibodies for three rabbit cytochrome P‐450 isozymes; 2, 5, and 6 (subfamilies IIB, IVB, and IA, respectively); and for rabbit NADPH‐cytochrome P‐450 reductase. Enzyme distribution was similar in both hamster and rat nasal tissues except in cells of striated and intercalated ducts of nasal glands and in cells of the nasolacrimal duct where immunoreactivity for reductase and isozyme 2 was intense in nonciliated cells lining the nonolfactory epithelium, in sustentacular cells of the olfactory epithelium, and acinar cells of olfactory glands. Distribution of reaction products to isozyme 5 and 6 were similar to but not so intense as those of reductase an isozyme 2. Reaction products for reductase and isozyme 2 occurred generally in the same cellular and intracellular regions with the following exceptions: isozyme 2 was more concentrated in cells of striated ducts and of the nasolacrimal duct, and reductase was more abundant in intercalated ducts of nasal glands. Ciliated and goblet cells in epithelia lining much of the nasal cavity evidenced little reactivity; those ciliated cells adjacent to olfactory mucosa contained reaction product. It is concluded that the nonciliated epithelium adjacent to the internal ostium of the nose contains enzymes essential for biotransforming extrinsic particles that impinge on it from inhaled air currents.
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