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Allergy. 1996 Nov;51(11):826-32.

Clinical and immunologic evaluation of workers exposed to glutaraldehyde.

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Health and Safety Laboratory, An Agency of the Health and Safety Executive, Sheffield, UK.


We describe immunologic responses in subjects exposed to glutaraldehyde (GA) who were diagnosed as having occupational asthma, or who described work-related respiratory symptoms. A series of GA-modified proteins was characterized, and used to analyse sera from 20 GA-exposed workers and 21 unexposed workers for IgE antibodies. Inhibition studies were used to determine the specificity of binding. The reaction of GA with albumin in different molar ratios produced a range of modified proteins, which were used to measure specific IgE antibodies. A significant difference between exposed and unexposed subjects with serum IgE less than 150 kU/l could be detected for GA-specific IgE antibodies (P - 0.026), and 31% of exposed workers with occupational asthma had antibody levels greater than the unexposed population (mean +2.5 SD). False-positive results were obtained with serum from unexposed workers who had total IgE levels greater than 150 kU/l, but this binding was not inhibited by GA-modified proteins. We report the first evidence of immunologic sensitization in some workers exposed to GA. However, GA may behave like many other low-molecular-weight chemicals in that specific antibodies can be detected in only a small percentage of exposed workers who report work-related respiratory symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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