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Keywords:

  • cell culture;
  • cytokines;
  • MHC molecules;
  • occupational asthma

Summary

Background We previously reported that in moderate-to-severe asthma there is a deficit of IL-10 secretion that could prevent the production of soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G), a non-classical human leucocyte antigen class I molecule with tissue-protective properties in inflammatory responses.

Objective Our objective was to investigate the production of sHLA-G and the secretion of IL-10 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in asthma induced by isocyanates and to compare the results with those obtained in non-occupational allergic asthma.

Method sHLA-G and IL-10 were measured by ELISA in the culture supernatants of unstimulated or lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated PBMCs obtained from 20 subjects with isocyanate asthma, 16 asymptomatic subjects exposed to isocyanates, 18 subjects with non-occupational allergic asthma, and 26 healthy control subjects.

Results Occupational exposure to isocyanates was associated with high baseline levels of secretion of IL-10 by PBMCs, whether or not the exposed subjects had asthmatic symptoms. However, spontaneous production of sHLA-G by PBMC was significantly higher in subjects with isocyanate asthma compared with asymptomatic-exposed controls. In contrast, PBMCs from subjects with non-occupational allergic asthma produced sHLA-G only after LPS stimulation.

Conclusions sHLA-G production and IL-10 secretion are influenced by workplace exposure to isocyanates and by development of asthma. The different behaviour of both sHLA-G and IL-10 in asthma induced by isocyanates compared with non-occupational allergic asthma suggests a heterogeneous biological role for HLA-G molecules and for IL-10, a key cytokine of immune and inflammatory responses.