Occupational asthma caused by high-molecular-weight substances

Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2003 May;23(2):235-50, vii. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8561(02)00083-8.


More than 250 agents that are encountered in the workplace have been shown to induce asthma in susceptible individuals. It is estimated that 2% to 15% of cases of asthma may be occupational. High-molecular-weight substances, such as plant and animal proteins, enzymes, and large carbohydrate molecules, can induce IgE-mediated occupational asthma. The incidence of disease varies among industries and is dependent on the physiochemical properties of the agent, the level and duration of exposure, industrial hygiene, engineering practices, and host factors. Risk factors, common high-molecular-weight workplace antigens, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / complications
  • Molecular Weight
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Occupational Diseases / therapy
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome