Occupational Asthma Reference

Houba R, Heederik DJ, Doekes G, van Run PE, Exposure-sensitisation relationship for alpha-amylase allergens in the baking industry, Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 1996;154:130-136,

Keywords: alpha amylase, enzyme, amylase, IgE, prevalence, baker

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Dick Heederik, Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht Dick Heederik

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Abstract

Fungal alpha-amylase is an important occupational allergen in the bakery industry. Epidemiologic studies focusing on the relationship between alpha-amylase allergen exposure and work-related respiratory allergy, however, have not been reported yet. In this cross-sectional study, sensitization to occupational allergens and work-related symptoms were studied in 178 bakery workers and related to allergen exposure. Alpha-amylase allergen concentrations were measured in personal dust samples, using a sandwich enzyme immunoassay. All workers were categorized into groups on the basis of their job histories and the alpha-amylase exposure levels of their job titles. Of all workers 25% had one or more work-related symptoms. As much as 9% of the bakery workers showed a positive skin prick test reaction to fungal amylase, and in 8% amylase-specific IgE was demonstrated. Alpha-amylase exposure and atopy appeared to be the most important determinants of skin sensitization, with prevalence ratios for atopy of 20.8 (95% CI, 2.74 to 158) and for medium and high alpha-amylase exposure groups of 8.6 (95% CI, 1.01 to 74) and 15.9 (95% CI, 1.95 to 129), respectively. Furthermore, a positive association was found between positive skin prick tests to alpha-amylase and work-related respiratory symptoms. In conclusion, this study has shown that there is a strong and positive relationship between alpha-amylase allergen exposure levels in bakeries and specific sensitization in bakery workers

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