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Keywords:

  • allergic rhinitis;
  • allergen challenge;
  • asthma;
  • natural rubber latex

Background: Natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy in workers using rubber gloves has been an occupational health problem for the last 10 years. In the case of the occupational agents, clinical history may be far from conclusive; hence, appropriate provocation should be carried out. The objective was to evaluate the usefulness of the nasal challenge test in the diagnosis of allergic rhinitis in subjects occupationally exposed to NRL.

Methods: A single-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted in 16 nurses with respiratory symptoms (bronchial asthma and/or rhinitis) related to NRL exposure as well as positive skin prick test (SPT) response to NRL. The controls were nine nurses with asthma and/or perennial rhinitis unrelated to NRL exposure; six atopic patients not occupationally exposed to NRL, with asthma and/or perennial rhinitis; and six healthy subjects. All the controls had negative results of SPT with NRL. Patients with a history of anaphylaxis or positive results of RAST to NRL were not considered in the study. The “nasal pool” technique was used to evaluate the cellular response and changes in protein level and ECP concentration in nasal washings after topical provocation with allergen or placebo.

Results: A significant increase was noted in eosinophil and basophil number, albumin/total protein ratio, and ECP level only in NRL SPT-positive patients subjected to nasal challenge with NRL. Neither bronchial nor systemic reactions were found after the nasal provocation with NRL.

Conclusions: The nasal challenge test appears to be useful for diagnosing occupational rhinitis in NRL-sensitized patients.