Nasal and bronchial responses to flour-inhalation in subjects with occupationally induced allergy affecting the airway

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Objectives: The aim of the study was to follow the similarities and differences, of cellular and mediator changes and mucosal/vascular permeability in the upper and lower airway after specific and nonspecific bronchial provocation, in bakers with diagnosed occupationally induced allergy affecting the airway. In addition, the authors try to find whether there is a relationship between cellular changes in nasal and bronchoalveolar lavage, and bronchial hyperreactivity. Methods: The study participants were 10 bakers with occupational bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis. All patients were sensitized to investigated allergen-flour. Nasal- and bronchoalveolar lavage techniques were used to evaluate the changes of the cellular and mediator response (tryptase, eosinophil cationic protein, ECP) and albumin level after specific (flour) and placebo provocation. In addition, bronchial hyperreactivity for histamine, and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) were measured after the challenge. Results: There was a significant increase in the percentage of eosinophils, basophils and albumin in nasal and bronchoalveolar lavage of occupationally sensitized bakers. A statistically significant increase in the percentage of neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage was observed only 24 h after the allergen challenge. The level of tryptase in nasal lavage was significantly higher during the early allergic response. The levels of ECP in both nasal and bronchoalveolar lavage were significantly increased during the late allergic response. There were also severe bronchial reactions and increase of bronchial hyperreactivity for histamine in occupationally sensitized bakers in the late phase of allergic reaction. Conclusion: Eosinophils and basophils proved to be the predominant cells in nasal and bronchoalveolar lavage of patients with occupationally induced bronchial asthma and rhinitis. The prolonged increase of albumin level seems also to be a good predictor of protracted nasal and bronchial inflammation. The results obtained confirmed that tryptase and ECP are good markers for monitoring mast cell and eosinophil degranulation during the allergic reaction. Increase of airway responsiveness reflects an eosinophil and basophil contribution to airway allergic response.

Received: 24 June 1999 / Accepted: 25 April 2000