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Clin Exp Allergy. 2012 Jul;42(7):1021-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2012.03970.x.

Distinct temporal patterns of immediate asthmatic reactions due to high- and low-molecular-weight agents.

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Université de Montréal and Department of Chest Medicine, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Montreal, Canada.



Exposure to occupational agents can cause immediate asthmatic reactions.


It can be hypothesized that the pattern of immediate reactions is different for high (HMW)- and low-molecular-weight (LMW) agents. To test this, we studied the temporal features of reactions in workers who underwent specific inhalation challenges for possible occupational asthma.


We examined 467 immediate reactions due to HMW (n = 248, 53%) and LWW (n = 219, 47%) agents in regards to timing of the maximum reaction and recovery.


The median duration of exposure to elicit significant immediate reactions was comparable for HMW and LMW agents (15 min). The median maximum fall in FEV (1) occurred after 20 min for LMW by comparison with 10 min for HMW agents (P < 0.001). The median timing of recovery of FEV (1) to 10% baseline was shorter for HMW (60 min) than for LMW (90 min) agents (P < 0.01), and significantly more subjects recovered to 10% baseline (89.5%) for HMW than for LMW agents (72.6%) (P < 0.001). Confounding variables such as age, atopy, baseline airway calibre and the maximum fall in FEV (1) at the time of the immediate reaction did not alter the significant effect of the nature of the agent per se. Immediate reactions were followed by a late asthmatic reaction more often in the case of LMW (37.3%) than HMW (26.2%) agents (P < 0.05). Significant changes in non-specific bronchial responsiveness were significantly (P = 0.02) more frequent after reactions to LMW (31.9%) than to HMW (21.4%) agents. We found similar trends by comparing reactions to flour (n = 113), the principal cause of reactions to HMW agents, and diisocyanates (n = 111), the principal LMW agent.


This study shows distinct patterns for immediate reactions due to occupational agents. These results can provide useful guidelines for performing specific inhalation challenges and improve the safety of the procedure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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