Reactive Oxygen Species in Chronic Rhinosinusitis and Secondhand Smoke Exposure

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) can potentiate cellular injury and inflammation. This study aimed to (1) assess the presence of reactive oxygen species in the sinus tissue of patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and (2) assess the impact of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure on reactive oxygen species (ROS) production.

Study Design

Retrospective cohort study.


Academic medical center.

Subjects and Methods

Sinus tissue samples from patients undergoing sinus surgery were analyzed using diaminobenzidine (DAB) staining to assess for ROS. Stained specimens were photographed at random by a blinded photographer and then quantified by 3 blinded graders. The patient’s SHS exposure was determined by hair nicotine levels. Results were compared between non–smoke exposed cohorts and those exposed to secondhand smoke and by diagnosis.


Sixty-nine adults undergoing sinus surgery were included in the study. For the non-SHS-exposed cohorts, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) had the highest number of DAB+ cells/high-powered field (hpf) followed by chronic rhinosinusitis without nasal polyps (CRSsNP) and controls. When comparing the control patients to their SHS-exposed counterparts, SHS exposure yielded statistically significantly higher levels of DAB-positive cells/hpf. SHS exposure did not affect DAB staining in CRSsNP or CRSwNP patients.


ROS are differentially expressed in various subtypes of CRS. SHS exposure increases ROS in sinus tissue of control patients, but the clinical significance of this is unclear.

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