Background Breathing is one of the most important modes of sensitization to natural rubber latex (NRL) for health-care workers, a group most at risk. Cornstarch powder (CSp) from medical powdered NRL gloves is known to be an allergen carrier, and sensitization to NRL can occur by inhaling airborne particles from such gloves.
Objective The aim of this study was to demonstrate, using an experimental model, which CSp may act as an adjuvant in NRL-induced airway hyper-responsiveness.
Methods Guinea-pigs were exposed to aerosolized NRL-contaminated CSp or to NRL in saline solution for 1 h every day for 2 weeks. The control groups were exposed either to CSp or to saline alone. An additional group of guinea-pigs was exposed to aerosolized ovalbumin (OVA) in saline. Three weeks after the last exposure, specific bronchial challenges were performed. In addition, Specific IgG and IgG1 in sera and thromboxane (Tx) B2 levels in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were measured.
Results The NRL challenge caused significant bronchospasm in the animals that had been exposed to NRL compared with those in the control groups (P<0.02). Guinea-pigs exposed to OVA also demonstrated a significant bronchospasm after OVA challenge (P<0.001). The guinea-pigs that had inhaled NRL-contaminated CSp had a significantly higher bronchoconstriction level than those that had inhaled NRL alone (P<0.02). Specific IgG and IgG1 were undetectable in sera from all groups, whereas significant amounts of TxB2 (P<0.001) were found in the lungs of the guinea-pigs exposed to NRL or OVA.
Conclusion Inhaling CSp increases the airway response to NRL. The fact that specific IgG and IgG1 were not detected might be the result of an immune response limited to the airways. This finding is supported by a significant increase of TxB2 level in the BALF of sensitized guinea-pigs.