A recent study from the Division of Otolaryngology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) showed that serum periostin, an extracellular matrix protein, may be a novel biomarker for the presence of nasal polyps in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), and could potentially serve as a target for future therapeutic interventions. The findings were published in the October 2017 issue of Otolaryngology Head Neck Surg.
“We have two main categories for stratifying patients with chronic rhinosinusitis: the presence or absence of nasal polyps. However, this classification doesn’t represent the molecular mechanisms that drive the disease. We set out to identify a biomarker that could help us better categorize CRS patients, because it could help us design more personalized treatments in the future,” says author Alice Z. Maxfield, MD, a otolaryngologist in the Division of Otolaryngology.
Dr. Maxfield collaborated with Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary investigators, Lukas Landegger, MD, Christopher Brook, MD, Ashton Lehmann, MD, Adam P. Campbell, MD, Regan W. Bergmark, MD, Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD, FACS, under the mentorship of Ralph Metson, MD.
The research team measured serum periostin levels from blood samples collected from 71 patients undergoing sinus surgery for CRS (subdivided into patients with and without polyps and asthma). The results were compared with assays performed on 62 control subjects. Results showed that mean serum periostin levels were significantly elevated in patients with CRS versus controls. In addition, mean periostin levels were significantly higher in CRS patients with nasal polyps as compared to those without polyps. The highest periostin levels were found in patients with nasal polyps and asthma.
“The results of this study indicate that periostin may be a useful biomarker of polyp burden in sinonasal disease. Because molecular biomarkers such as periostin may reflect underlying pathologic mechanisms of disease, treatments that lower periostin levels may help decrease polyp formation, or at least slow the progression of disease,” says Dr. Maxfield.
Dr. Maxfield notes that this was a preliminary study with a relatively small sample size within each group, and that future studies should include larger populations.