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Chapter 17: Occupational immunologic lung disease

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Occupational immunologic lung disease is characterized by an immunologic response in the lung to an airborne agent inhaled in the work environment and can be subdivided into immunologically mediated occupational asthma (OA) and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP). Irritant-induced OA, a separate nonimmunologic entity, can be caused by chronic exposure to inhaled irritants or reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, defined as an asthma-like syndrome that persists for >3 months and occurs abruptly after a single exposure to a high concentration of an irritating industrial agent. High-risk fields for OA include farmers, printers, woodworkers, painters, plastic workers, cleaners, spray painters, electrical workers, and health care workers. OA can be triggered by high molecular weight (HMW) proteins that act as complete allergens or low molecular weight (LMW) sensitizers that act as haptens. HMW proteins (>10 kDa) are generally derived from microorganisms (such as molds and bacteria, including thermophilic actinomycetes), plants (such as latex antigens and flour proteins), or animals (such as animal dander, avian proteins, and insect scales) and are not specifically regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). LMW haptens that bind to proteins in the respiratory mucosa include some OSHA-regulated substances such as isocyanates, anhydrides, and platinum. HP can present in an acute, a chronic, or a subacute form. The acute, subacute, and early chronic form is characterized by a CD4+ TH1 and CD8+ lymphocyte alveolitis. Classically, the bronchoalveolar lavage will show a CD4/CD8 ratio of <1.

Keywords: Allergens; HMW proteins; LMW haptens; hypersensitivity pneumonitis; immunologic; irritant induced; occupation asthma; occupational immunologic lung disease (OILD); reactive airways dysfunction syndrome; work environment

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2012

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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