Background Long-term avoidance of natural rubber latex [Hevea brasiliensis (Hev b)] is currently recommended for health-care workers (HCWs) with established natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy. Percutaneous sensitivity to eight Hev b NRL allergens was evaluated in HCWs in 2000. To date, no studies have evaluated the longitudinal effects of NRL avoidance on percutaneous sensitivity to NRL allergens.
Objective The aims of this study were to evaluate changes in percutaneous reactivity to non-ammoniated latex (NAL) and NRL allergens in HCWs 5 years after a recommendation to avoid NRL and to evaluate factors that predict the persistence of in vivo sensitivity to NAL and NRL allergens.
Methods Skin prick testing was performed with NAL, seven NRL allergens (Hev b 1, 2, 3, 4, 6.01, 7.01, and 13), and recombinant Hev b 5 (rHev b 5) in 34 HCWs who were initially evaluated in 2000 for occupationally related NRL allergy. Serial 10-fold dilutions of NAL and NRL allergens were employed in skin testing. Sera from the HCWs were assayed for latex and enhanced latex (rHev b 5-enriched allergosorbent)-specific IgE antibodies using the ImmunoCAP® assay.
Results The prevalence of work-related symptoms significantly decreased between 2000 and 2005 with avoidance of NRL (P<0.05). A 100-fold reduction in percutaneous sensitivity to Hev b 2 and Hev b 7 was less likely in those with prior history of systemic reactions to NRL (P=0.0053), reported history of reaction to cross-reactive foods (P=0.014), continued local reactions to NRL gloves (P<0.0001), or high NRL glove exposure since the initial study (P=0.0075). The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the latex-specific IgE serology was 54% and 87.5%, respectively, in comparison with NAL skin tests. The addition of rHev b 5 to the ImmunoCAP® (enhanced latex) allergosorbent altered the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the ImmunoCAP® to 77% and 75%, respectively.
Conclusion While symptoms may resolve quickly with NRL avoidance therapy, detectable IgE indicating continued sensitization remains beyond 5 years, and thus continued avoidance of NRL should be recommended.