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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2003 May-Aug;16(2):145-50.

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons administered in humans by dermal route increase total IgE.

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Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health-Section of Occupational Health, University of Padua, Italy.


Inhalation of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) extracted from diesel exhaust particles (DEP) enhances local (nasal) production of IgE in humans. The aim of the present research is to investigate whether in humans dermal exposure to PAHs which are not extracted from DEPs increases serum IgE, and whether host factors modify the immunologic effect. In thirty-two patients with acute psoriatic lesions, a cream containing 3% of coal tar (which holds a variety of PAHs) was applied to the skin for 24 hours. Serum IgE were measured before (IgE0) and four (IgE4) and eight (IgE8) days after application. Replicated means were compared by analysis of variance for repeated measures and by the Newman-Keuls' test. IgE0, IgE4 and IgE8 were 151.19, 159.69 (a 6% excess) and 170.90 kU/L (a 13% excess) respectively; pairwise comparison showed IgE8 was significantly higher than IgE0 (p<0.05). At multiple linear regression analysis, the percentage increase in serum IgE across observation days was the dependent variable against age, sex, cigarettes/day, urinary 1-pyrenol, atopy, skin area treated, and grams of cream. Of the independent variables, only age had a significant (p<0.028) influence: the younger the age, the higher the IgE response to PAHs. We conclude that whatever the source and the route of entry (skin or respiratory tract), PAHs increase total serum IgE, mainly in younger age groups.

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