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Clinical & Experimental Allergy

Immunoadjuvant properties of glove cornstarch powder in latex-induced hypersensitivity


F. Leynadier, Centre d'Allergologie, Hôpital Tenon, 4 rue de la Chine, 75970 Paris Cedex 20, France. E-mail:


Background Cornstarch powder present in medical gloves plays an important role in latex-induced hypersensitivity as allergen carrier either, by the inhalation route, by skin contact or by direct contact with mucous membranes.

Objective Our objective was to test the hypothesis that cornstarch could act as an immunoadjuvant in immediate type-I latex-induced hypersensitivity.

Methods Guinea-pigs were sensitized by intraperitoneal route with two different antigens (latex proteins and ovalbumin) with or without cornstarch powder. Airway responsiveness after specific bronchial provocation was evaluated and specific IgG and IgG1 levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA). Controls were treated with cornstarch powder or saline alone.

Results Animals sensitized with latex proteins (n = 7 in each group) showed significant bronchoconstriction (P < 0.03) and higher anti-latex antibody levels than the controls (P < 0.005). Guinea-pigs sensitized with latex-contaminated cornstarch had higher levels of specific antibodies than those sensitized with latex alone (P < 0.05). Animals sensitized to latex mixed with cornstarch showed higher bronchospasm than those treated with latex alone (P < 0.003). Animals sensitized to ovalbumin mixed with cornstarch also showed higher antibody and bronchoconstriction levels (P < 0.05) than those immunized with ovalbumin alone but antibody titres were significantly lower than those of the animals treated with ovalbumin and Freund's complete adjuvant (P < 0.01; n = 5 in each group).

Conclusion Our findings show that cornstarch powder increases antigen-induced bronchoconstriction and antibody production. This role of immunoadjuvant is not antigen-specific. The cornstarch powder used as donning agent in latex gloves is an allergen carrier and it can enhance latex-induced hypersensitivity.

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