Although increased levels of specific IgE and/or IgG antibodies have been documented in individual cases of occupational asthma caused by common types of isocyanates (hexamethylene diisocyanate [HDI] and diphenylmethane diisocyanate [MDI]), the frequency among workers with occupational asthma is still unknown. The sera of 62 65 workers referred for specific inhalation challenges with isocyanates were analyzed for the presence of specific antibodies to the relevant isocyanate. Most workers (39, 63%) were exposed to HDI, some to MDI (17, 27%), and a few to toluene diisocyanate (six, 10%). Specific inhalation challenges were positive in 29 subjects, eliciting either immediate (seven), early late (two), late (13), or dual (seven) reactions. Specific inhalation challenges were more often positive in those subjects with increased nonspecific bronchial responsiveness. Twenty-nine subjects demonstrated increased levels of specific IgE and/or IgG antibodies to isocyanates in the absence of antibodies against human serum albumin (increased IgE only, no subject; IgG only, 20; both IgE and IgG, nine subjects). Although there was a loose association between the results of specific inhalation challenges and levels of specific IgE, the association was much better with the level of specific IgG. Indeed. 21 of the 29 subjects (72%) with positive challenges had increased levels of specific IgG whereas 25 of the 33 subjects (76%) with negative challenges had normal levels of antibodies. The association was significant with both HDI and MDI. The levels of antibodies were not significantly associated with the type of temporal reaction. We conclude that the levels of specific IgG to the more recent types of isocyanates (HDI and MDI) bear a satisfactory association, in terms of sensitivity and specificity, to the results of specific inhalation challenges, suggesting that an immunologic mechanism is involved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy