Humanized mouse model used to monitor MUC gene expression in nasal polyps and to preclinically evaluate the efficacy of montelukast in reducing mucus production.

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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2012 May; 121(5):307-16.







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OBJECTIVES: To determine whether MUC gene expression could be down-regulated in nasal polyps by the leukotriene receptor antagonist montelukast, we developed a system in which nondisrupted human nasal polyps could be successfully implanted into severely immunocompromised mice, and in which the histopathology of the original nasal polyp tissue could be preserved for long periods. In addition, the histopathologic changes in the human nasal polyps were carefully examined to determine the origin of the submucosal glands (SMGs) that develop in true nasal polyps found in the anterior third of the nose.

METHODS: Small, nondisrupted pieces of human nasal polyp tissues were subcutaneously implanted into NOD-scid IL-2rgamma(null) mice. Xenograft-bearing mice were treated with either montelukast or saline solution. Xenografts at 8 to 12 weeks after implantation were examined histologically, and expression of MUC genes 4, 5AC, and 7 was studied in the polyps before implantation and in the 8-week xenograft. Alzet pumps were inserted into the mice, and montelukast (Singulair) was continuously delivered to determine its effect on goblet cell hyperplasia, mucus production, and the enlargement of nasal polyps over an 8-week period.

RESULTS: The xenografts were maintained in a viable and functional state for up to 3 months and retained a histopathology similar to that of the original tissue, but with a noticeable increase in goblet cell hyperplasia and marked mucus accumulation in the SMGs. MUC4 and MUC5AC were significantly increased in the xenograft 8 weeks after implantation, but MUC7 was significantly decreased compared to the preimplantation polyps. Inasmuch as MUC7 is found exclusively in serous glands, the findings suggest that serous glands are not found in polyps in the anterior third of the nose. The histopathologic findings confirm the original findings of Tos et al suggesting that the SMGs are derived from pinching-off of the epithelium of the enlarging polyp following inflammatory changes. These SMGs have the same epithelium as surface epithelium and consist of multiple goblet cells that secrete periodic acid Schiff stain-positive mucin into the interior of the SMGs. A progressive increase in the volume of the xenografts was observed, with little or no evidence of mouse cell infiltration into the human leukocyte antigen-positive human tissue. An average twofold increase in polyp volume was found 2 months after engraftment. Montelukast did not decrease the growth of the xenograft in the 8-week NOD-scid mice, nor did it affect MUC gene expression.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of innate and adaptive immunodeficient NOD-scid mice homozygous for targeted mutations in the IL-2 gamma-chain locus NOD-scid IL-2r gamma(null) for establishing engraftment of nondisrupted pieces of human nasal polyp tissues represents a significant advancement in studying chronic inflammation over a long period of time. In the present study, we utilized this humanized mouse model to confirm our prediction that MUC genes 4 and 5AC are highly expressed and significantly increased over those of preimplanted polyps. The overexpression of these 2 MUC genes correlates with both the goblet cell hyperplasia and the excessive mucus production that are found in nasal polyp xenografts. MUC7, which is primarily associated with the submucosa, as opposed to MUC4 and MUC5AC, which are primarily expressed in the epithelium, was significantly decreased in the nasal polyp xenografts. Montelukast had no significant effect on MUC gene expression in the xenografts. In addition to the MUC gene expression patterns, the histology of the xenografts supports the concept that mucinous glands that are characteristic of true nasal polyps are significantly different from those in the mucosa found in the lateral wall of the nose in patients with chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps. The mucinous glands seen in nasal polyps (which appear to be derived from an invagination of hyperplastic epithelial mucosa containing large numbers of goblet cells) are histologically distinct from the seromucinous glands found in the submucosa of hyperplastic middle turbinates. The data presented here establish a humanized mouse model as a viable approach to study nasal polyp growth, to assess the therapeutic efficacy of various drugs in this chronic inflammatory disease, and to contribute to our understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease.

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