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Keywords:

  • α2-macroglobulin;
  • airway;
  • allergy;
  • eosinophil cationic protein;
  • flour;
  • occupational rhinitis

Summary

Aims:  Rhinitis symptoms frequently occur in bakery-workers. Yet, little is known about the pathophysiology of this condition. The objective of the present study was to examine nasal indices of inflammation in relation to occupational dust exposure, occupational rhinitis according to defined criteria, rhinitis symptoms associated to the workplace, and occupational sensitization in bakery-workers.

Methods:  Bakery-workers (n = 197) were subjected to interviews, questionnaires, workplace dust measurements, allergy tests, and nasal lavages with and without histamine. α2-Macroglobulin and eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) were measured in saline lavages as indices of plasma exudation and eosinophilic activity, respectively. Histamine lavages were employed to explore the nasal exudative responsiveness.

Results: α2-Macroglobulin and ECP increased significantly by increased workplace dust exposure (P≤0·035). Furthermore, the exudative responsiveness to histamine increased significantly by such exposure (P≤0·016). Similar patterns were seen in workers with occupational rhinitis and in subjects with rhinitis symptoms associated to the workplace, but not in workers with occupational sensitization.

Conclusions:  We conclude that occupational dust exposure in bakery-workers is associated with nasal eosinophilic exudative inflammation. In contrast, occupational sensitization is not a discriminating factor with regard to indices of eosinophilic, exudative inflammation in the present material.