Histopathologic and morphometric evaluation of the nasal and pulmonary airways of cats with experimentally induced asthma

Christine M. Venema, Kurt J. Williams, Laurel J Gershwin, Carol R. Reinero, Stephan A. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Allergic rhinitis frequently occurs as a comorbid condition in asthmatic people, suggesting that the upper and lower airways may be immunologically linked. Our research group has developed an experimental aeroallergen model of asthma in cats. We hypothesized that aeroallergen sensitization and challenge would induce morphologic changes in the nasal airways of cats that mimic those observed in the bronchial airways. Methods: Five mixed breed cats were sensitized to Bermuda grass allergen and then serially challenged with aerosolized Bermuda grass allergen to induce an asthmatic phenotype. Four control cats were similarly treated with saline vehicle. Nasal tissues and lungs were processed for histopathological and morphometric analyses. Results: Eosinophilic inflammation, epithelial hypertrophy and mucous cell metaplasia were observed along the pulmonary axial airway mucosa of allergen-sensitized (asthmatic) cats. Mild eosinophilic inflammation was observed in the nasal airways of asthmatic cats. This alteration was confined primarily to the anterior nasal cavity, resulting in an increase in tissue eosinophils at this site compared to controls (p < 0.05). A marked increase in tissue mast cells was observed throughout all regions of the nasal airways of asthmatic cats compared to control cats (p < 0.05). There was no difference in intraepithelial mucosubstances between the nasal airways of controls and asthmatic cats. There was no correlation between upper and lower airway eosinophils or mast cells. Conclusion: Cats with experimentally induced asthma exhibit morphologic changes in the nasal airways that are distinct from the alterations observed in the lungs. These results are similar to those observed in people with comorbid asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-376
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Eosinophils
  • Intraepithelial mucosubstances
  • Mast cells
  • Nasal airways
  • Unified airways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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