Diisocyanates, occupational asthma and IgE antibody: Implications for hazard characterization

Ian Kimber, Rebecca J. Dearman, David A. Basketter

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    Sensitization of the respiratory tract by chemicals resulting in rhinitis and asthma is an important occupational health issue. Occupational asthma is associated with significant morbidity and can be fatal. Tests for the identification and characterization of chemicals with the potential to cause sensitization of the respiratory tract are lacking. In spite of sustained interest there are no validated or widely accepted methods available, and this presents toxicologists with a considerable challenge. One important constraint on the development of appropriate testing strategies has been uncertainty and controversy about the immunological mechanisms through which chemicals may induce sensitization of the respiratory tract. By analogy with protein respiratory allergy it is legitimate to consider that IgE antibody-dependent mechanisms may play a pivotal role. However, although many aspects of chemical respiratory allergy are consistent with reactions caused by IgE antibody, uncertainty remains because among patients with occupational asthma caused by chemical respiratory allergens there are commonly a proportion, and sometimes a significant proportion, of subjects that lack detectable IgE antibody. Here we consider the relevance of IgE antibody responses for the development of a chemical respiratory allergy to diisocyanates. A case is made that IgE antibody responses are, either directly or indirectly, closely associated with occupational asthma to the diisocyanates (and to other chemical respiratory allergens). As such the argument is advanced here that IgE antibody represents an appropriate readout for the characterization of chemical respiratory allergens, and that uncertainty about mode of action should no longer represent a hurdle in the development of suitable test methods. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1073-1077
    Number of pages4
    JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Chemical respiratory allergy
    • Diisocyanate
    • Hazard characterization
    • IgE antibody
    • Occupational asthma


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