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Ind Health. 2018 Feb 7;56(1):10-19. doi: 10.2486/indhealth.2017-0049. Epub 2017 Aug 22.

Altered immune responses in broiler chicken husbandry workers and their association with endotoxin exposure.

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Department of Occupational Health, College of Bio-Medical Sciences, Daegu Catholic University, Republic of Korea.
Harim Institute of Life Science, Harim Corporation, Republic of Korea.
Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Republic of Korea.


Exposure to bioaerosols in indoor animal farms associates with respiratory illnesses, but little is known about the immune modulation to chicken farmers. This study aimed to compare the general immunity of chicken farmers with those of control subjects with non-agricultural jobs. Blood taken from the farmers and controls was subjected to plasma IgE and IgG subclass measurements. Isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were stimulated and cytokine production was measured. Indoor total and respirable dust levels and their endotoxin (LPS) and aflatoxin (AF) levels in the farms were measured. In total, 29 chicken farmers on 19 farms and 14 age- and sex-matched office workers participated. Hematological differences were not observed. The farmers tended to have higher serum IgE and IgG subclass levels with significance for IgG1. The cytokines released by PBMC from farmers indicated skewing toward Type-2 helper T-cell responses: interferon (IFN)-γ:interleukin (IL)-4 and IFNγ:IL-13 ratios were significantly lower than for control PBMC. The farms had 707.1 EU/m3 LPS in total dust, and 15.8 EU/m3 LPS in respirable dust. Farmers exhibited immune skewing towards allergic immune responses that correlated with the LPS levels on their farms. Chicken farmers may be at risk of respiratory allergies due to occupational endotoxin exposure.


Aflatoxin; Cellular immunity; Chicken husbandry farmer; Endotoxin; Organic dust

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