It has generally been assumed that "perennial" non-allergic rhinitis is a heterogeneous syndrome consisting of at least two groups: non-eosinopilic and eosinophilic. Opposite to non-eosinophilic group, eosinophilic group is characterized by nasal secretion eosinophilia, frequent evolution to nasal polyposis or complete ASA triad (nasal polyposis, intrinsic asthma and intolerance of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and by a good response to treatment with anti-histamines and corticosteroids. These characteristics obviously separate eosinophilic from non-eosinophilic rhinitis and point out the importance of nasal secretion eosinophilia for the evolution and therapy of rhinitis. However, the distinction between eosinophilic and non-eosinophilic rhinitis can only be made by nasal cytology. Skin tests with vasomotor agents were carried out to characterize vasomotor skin reactivity in "perennial" non-allergic rhinitis and determine whether the patients with non-eosinophilic rhinitis differ from patients with eosinophilic rhinitis.
On the basis of the examination of nasal smears of eosinophils, 74 patients with "perennial" non-allergic rhinitis were divided into non-eosinophilic (n = 63) and eosinophilic group (n = 11). Nasal eosinophilic was considered significant when 20% and more of the cells in nasal smear were eosinophils. Skin reactivity to intracutaneous test with different concentrations of papaverine, metacholine, histamine and compound 48/48 was measured, as well as specific skin reactivity to control saline solution. Pathological skin reactivity to vasomotor agents was defined as hyporeactivity to papaverine (5 mg/mL), when wheal-and-flare skin reaction diameter was less than 15 mm; hyper-reactivity to metacholine (0.02, 0.2 and 2.0 mg/mL), when two of three wheal-and-flare skin reaction diameters were greater than 15, 25 and 31 mm, respectively; hyper-reactivity to histamine (0.01, 0.1, 1.0 and 10.0 micrograms/mL), when three of four wheal-and-flare skin reaction diameters were greater than 7, 13, 25 and 40 mm, respectively; and hyper-reactivity to compound 48/80 (0.01, 0.1, 1.0 and 10.0 micrograms/mL, when three of four wheal-and-flare skin reaction diameters were greater than 9, 16, 26 and 38 mm, respectively.
Seventy four patients with "perennial" non-allergic rhinitis were included in the study. There were 51 females, age range from 18 to 57 yrs. (mean 37 yrs.) and 23 males, age range from 18 to 73 yrs. (mean 44 yrs.). The difference between the number of females and males was significant (p = 1.1 x 10(-3)), while no significant difference regarding the age between females and males was found (p = 0.122). Significant percentage of eosinophils was found in 15% of "perennial" non-allergic rhinitis patients, and they were classified into eosinophilic group (n = 11). In this group, the percentage of eosinophils varied from 20% to 80%, mean 35%. In non-eosinophilic group (n = 63), it ranged from 0% to 10%, mean 1%. No significant difference concerning sex and age between the two groups of the rhinitis patients was observed (Table 1). There was no significant intergroup difference for pathological skin reactivity to papaverine, metacholine, histamine, compound 48/80 and saline (Table 2). Total pathological skin reactivity to vasomotor agents, single and in combination, was found in 78% of non-eosinophilic and in 91% of eosiniophilic rhinitis patients (Table 3). In both, non-eosinophilic and eosinophilic groups, frequencies of total pathological skin reactivity to vasomotor agents was significantly greater than frequencies of total normal skin reactivity (p = 1.1 x 10(-5) and p = 0.007 respectively). However, the difference of total pathological skin reactivity to vasomotor agents between the two groups was not significant (p = 0.552). (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)