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Pharmacogenetics. 2002 Apr;12(3):227-33.

N-Acetyltransferase genotypes as modifiers of diisocyanate exposure-associated asthma risk.

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Department of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.


We observed previously that polymorphisms in glutathione S-transferase (GST) genes modified allergic responses to diisocyanate exposure. Here, we extended the study to examine the possible role of N-acetyltransferase (NAT) genotypes in the development of diisocyanate-induced ill effects, both separately and in combination with the previously examined GSTM1, GSTM3, GSTP1 and GSTT1 genotypes. The study population comprised 182 diisocyanate-exposed workers, 109 of whom were diagnosed with diisocyanate-induced asthma and 73 of whom had no symptoms of asthma. The diisocyanates to which the workers had been exposed to were diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI), hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). The NAT2 genotype did not have any significant effect on the risk of developing asthma, but the putative slow acetylator NAT1 genotypes posed a 2.54-fold risk of diisocyanate-induced asthma (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.32 to 4.91). The effect of the NAT1 genotype was especially marked for workers exposed to TDI, among whom the NAT1 slow acetylator genotypes posed a 7.77-fold risk of asthma (95% CI 1.18 to 51.6). Statistically significant increases in asthma risk were also observed among the whole study population for the concurrent presence of the GSTM1 null genotype and either NAT1 (odds ratio [OR] 4.53, 95% CI 1.76 to 11.6) or NAT2 (OR 3.12, 95% CI 1.11 to 8.78) slow acetylator genotypes, and of NAT1 and NAT2 slow acetylator genotypes (OR 4.20, 95% CI 1.51 to 11.6). The results suggest for the first time that in addition to GSTs, the NATs play an important role in inception of asthmatic reactions related to occupational exposure to diisocyanates.

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