The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of topical administration of onion (Allium cepa) extract on nasal cavity for treatment of allergic rhinitis (AR). BALB/c mice were sensitized by intraperitoneal injection of ovalbumin (OVA) and challenged with intranasal instillation of OVA with or without onion extracts for five times a week on 3 consecutive weeks. Allergic symptom score according to frequencies of sneezing, serum total and OVA specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) level, cytokine levels of nasal mucosa and eosinophilic infiltration were analyzed. Allergic symptom score, serum total and OVA specific IgE, cytokine levels of nasal mucosa (interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, IFN-γ, TNF-α and COX-2) and eosinophilic infiltration were higher in allergic mouse group than negative control group. Topical application of onion extracts significantly reduced allergic symptoms and OVA specific IgE levels. Cytokine levels of IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13 and IFN-γ were significantly decreased in groups treated with onion extract. In addition, eosinophil infiltration of nasal turbinate mucosa was also significantly decreased after treatment with onion extract. Topical administration of onion extract significantly reduces allergic rhinitis symptom and allergic inflammatory reaction in a murine allergic model. It can be assumed that the topical application of onion extract regulates allergic symptoms by suppressing the type-1 helper (Th1) and type-2 helper (Th2) responses and reducing the allergic inflammatory reaction.
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