Physiology of the Nose and Paranasal Sinuses

  • Mehmet Emre Dinç
  • Nuray Bayar Muluk
  • Becky M. Vonakis


The nasal area filters out particles and humidifies the air that goes to the lungs. It also acts as first-line immunological protection enabling the exposure of the inspired air to the mucosal membranes that hold immunoglobulin A (IgA). Breathing in through the nose, the air travels cranially in the nasal area and interacts with the olfactory nerves, which produces the smell sensation that is very well related to the sense of taste. A problem in association with this system can result in nasal symptoms such as postnasal drainage, headaches, facial pressure, congestion, and sinus infections. The mucosa of the respiratory system consists of pseudostratified epithelium with hair cells, along with muciparous, strial, and basal cells. Hair cells are the most differentiated cells of the nasal mucosa. The ciliated columnar epithelial mucosa that lines the nasal area and paranasal sinuses continues with the squamous epithelium of the anterior nasal cavity and pharynx, respectively. Ciliated epithelium occupies a more significant portion of the anterior nasal area in the newborn and laryngectomized individuals compared to others indicating the squamous metaplasia of ciliated epithelium, which develops as a reaction to the trauma of environmental exposures. The respiratory epithelium, previously regarded as a physical barrier, is greatly engaged in the nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT); actually, the epithelial cells express major histocompatibility complex class II antigens, and Langerhans-type dendritic cells in the submucosal layer can present antigens to and trigger T-lymphocytes by interleukin 1 (IL-1). In this chapter, physiology of the nose and paranasal sinuses is presented in detail.


Physiology Nose Paranasal sinuses Epithelium Hair cells Nasal-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mehmet Emre Dinç
    • 1
  • Nuray Bayar Muluk
    • 2
  • Becky M. Vonakis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of OtorhinolaryngologyUniversity of Health Sciences, Okmeydanı Training and Research HospitalİstanbulTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Medical FacultyKırıkkale UniversityKırıkkaleTurkey
  3. 3.Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of MedicineJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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