Influence of glutathione-related genes on symptoms and immunologic markers among vulcanization workers in the southern Sweden rubber industries

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The aim was to elucidate the role of genetic variants on symptoms of the eyes and airways, headache and nausea, as well as on immunologic markers, among vulcanization workers in the contemporary Swedish rubber industry. Polymorphisms in genes, which are involved in the defense against reactive oxygen species and metabolism of toxic substances present in the vulcanization fumes, were analyzed.


One hundred and forty-five exposed and 117 unexposed workers were included in the study. Medical and occupational histories were obtained in structured interviews. Symptoms were recorded and immunologic markers analyzed in blood. Polymorphisms in glutathione-related genes (glutamate cysteine ligase catalytic subunit (GCLC)-129, glutamate cysteine ligase modifier subunit (GCLM)-588, glutathione S-transferase alpha 1 (GSTA1)-52, GSTM1*O, GSTP1-105, GSTP1-114, and GSTT1*O) were analyzed by Taqman-based allelic discrimination and ordinary PCR.


A protective effect of GSTA1-52 (G/A + A/A) genotype on symptoms and immunologic cells, in particular among exposed workers, was suggested. Exposed workers with GSTT1*O had increased risk of nosebleed compared to exposed workers with GSTT1*1. Exposed workers with GSTP1-105 (ile/val + val/val) had decreased levels of total immunoglobulin E (IgE) compared to exposed workers with GSTP1-105 ile/ile. GCLC-129 variant genotype demonstrated increased levels of immunologic cells among exposed workers, although statistical significance was not reached.


Our data indicate that hereditary factors influence the susceptibility to symptoms and the immunologic response of workers in the rubber industry.