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Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2008 Jul;81(7):861-72. Epub 2007 Dec 8.

Atopy, symptoms and indoor environmental perceptions, tear film stability, nasal patency and lavage biomarkers in university staff.

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Section for Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, Kalfarveien 31, 5018 Bergen, Norway.



Study associations between airway symptoms, complaints on environmental perceptions, atopy definitions and biomarkers including tear film stability (BUT), nasal patency and nasal lavage (NAL). Personal predictors (gender, age, smoking, infections) for the biomarkers as well as associations between the biomarkers were also assessed.


A cross-sectional study of 173 employees in four university buildings, response rate 86%. Tear film break up time (BUT) was measured by a non-invasive method (NIBUT) and self-reported (SBUT). NAL-analysis included eosinophilic cationic protein (ECP), myeloperoxidase (MPO), lysozyme and albumin. Total serum IgE, and specific IgE using Phadiatop was measured. Data on subjective symptoms, environmental perceptions and background data were collected by use of a questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses were applied.


Mean age was 43 years, 21% had weekly ocular, 21% nasal, and 17% laryngeal symptoms. Women had more complaints on environmental perceptions, shorter BUT and less nasal patency. Neither atopy (Phadiatop) nor Total IgE or allergy in the family, but asthma and hay fever was associated with mucosal symptoms or perceptions. Subjects with positive Phadiatop had higher levels of all NAL-biomarkers. Those with ocular symptoms had shorter BUT. Nasal symptoms were related to respiratory infections and laryngeal symptoms to NAL-lysozyme. Perceiving dry air was associated with lower BUT and reduced nasal volume difference before and after decongestion. Older subjects had greater nasal patency, and less atopy. All NAL-biomarkers were positively correlated. Higher lysozyme level was associated with less nasal patency and greater nasal decongestion.


BUT and NAL-lysozyme was associated with ocular, nasal, laryngeal symptoms and indoor environmental perceptions. Ever having had asthma and ever having had hay fever were predictors for symptoms and perceived air quality, respectively. Phadiatop, Total IgE, familiar allergy and ever eczema were not associated to symptoms or perceived environments. Age, gender and Phadiatop were main predictors for ocular and nasal biomarkers.

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