• Airways inflammation;
  • endotoxin;
  • (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-β-d-glucan ;
  • organic dusts


Exposure to organic dusts may cause airways inflammation in a large proportion of exposed persons. Most studies have relied on questionnaires and spirometry for diagnosis. To assess the possibility of determining the presence of inflammation using clinical diagnostic procedures, a study was undertaken among workers in a paper industry.

Participants were 83 workers and 44 controls. Airborne endotoxin and (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-β-d-glucan levels at the worksites were determined. The effects of this exposure were evaluated using a questionnaire, spirometry and measurements of airway responsiveness (methacholine) and levels of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and C-reactive protein (CRP) in serum.

The workers had a decreased baseline forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and an increased airway responsiveness compared with controls. The concentrations of ECP and MPO were elevated compared with controls. There was a relation between exposure to endotoxin and (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-β-d-glucan and airway responsiveness as well as ECP levels, when controlling for age, sex, smoking habits, atopy and asthma.

The results suggest an increased prevalence of subjective respiratory symptoms, and an increased airway responsiveness among exposed workers. There was also a relationship between the serum concentration of eosinophil cationic protein and airway responsiveness. Taken together, the results suggest the presence of airways inflammation in the workers.