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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1984 Feb;73(2):240-5.

Tobacco smoke "sensitivity"--is there an immunologic basis?


This study was undertaken to determine if there is an immunologic basis for reported tobacco-smoke hypersensitivity in man. Ninety-three individuals who were recruited on the basis of their smoking history and/or claimed sensitivity to tobacco smoke were skin prick tested with tobacco smoke and leaf extracts and their sera analyzed for reaginic and precipitating antibodies to these antigens. Results demonstrated that a significant number of the individuals who were tested had positive skin test and RAST responses to tobacco leaf antigens, whereas only a small number responded to smoke antigens. RAST or skin test responses of study subjects to leaf or smoke antigens did not correlate with symptoms of tobacco-smoke "sensitivity" or smoking history but did correlate with atopic status. Precipitins were detected only to tobacco leaf C in 46 of the 93 individuals who were tested but did not correlate with smoking history or smoke "sensitivity." These results suggest that subjective tobacco-smoke sensitivity is not caused by hypersensitivity to tobacco leaf or smoke antigens.

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