Occupational Asthma Reference

Hinojosa M, Fraj J, de la Hoz B, Alcazar R, Sueiro A, Hypersensitivity pneumonitis in workers exposed to esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima) fibers, J Allergy Clin Immunol, 1996;98:985-991,

Keywords: alveolitis, Spain, Esparto grass, plasterer

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Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima), which is commonly found in the Mediterranean countries, has a wide variety of uses. Five stucco makers who had cough, dyspnea, malaise, and fever after exposure to esparto fiber used in their jobs showed a significant decrease in symptoms when they were away from work. Precipitating antibodies against an esparto extract were found in the sera of all patients. Specific IgG antibodies against the esparto extract were also demonstrated in all patient sera, as were IgG antibodies to Aspergillus fumigatus and thermophilic microorganisms (Micropolyspora faeni and Thermoactinomyces vulgaris) by means of an ELISA method. Esparto activity was inhibited in different ranges by the above antigens by inhibition ELISA. Only A. fumigatus could be identified after microbiologic evaluation of the esparto fiber samples. After inhalation challenge tests were performed with esparto extracts, all patients showed significant decreases in forced vital capacity, transfer lung CO, and PaO2 blood gas from baseline values. Fever, chills, malaise, dry cough, tachycardia, tachypnea, and rales on chest auscultation were also observed in all patients. Findings from bronchoalveolar lavage were suggestive of allergic alveolitis. Transbronchial biopsy specimens showed interstitial alveolitis with lymphocyte-macrophage infiltrate and granuloma. Unexposed control subjects did not exhibit reactivity to any of the tests listed above. The dust derived from esparto fibers can cause hypersensitivity pneumonitis in exposed subjects. Organisms such as A. fumigatus and thermophilic actinomyces could be the causative antigens. "Stipatosis" might be an appropriate name for this disorder

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