Afferent nerves, derived from the trigeminal ganglion, and postganglionic autonomic nerves, derived from sympathetic and parasympathetic ganglia expressing many different neurotransmitters, innervate the nose. Reflexes that serve to optimize the air-conditioning function of the nose by altering sinus blood flow, or serve to protect the nasal mucosal surface by mucus secretion, vasodilatation, and sneezing, can be initiated by a variety of stimuli, including allergen, cold air, and chemical irritation. Activation of nasal afferent nerves can also have profound effects on respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, and airway caliber (the diving response). Dysregulation of the nerves in the nose plays an integral role in the pathogenesis of allergic rhinitis. Axon reflexes can precipitate inflammatory responses in the nose, resulting in plasma extravasation and inflammatory cell recruitment, while allergic inflammation can produce neuronal hyper-responsiveness. Targeting the neuronal dysregulation in the nose may be beneficial in treating upper airway disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine